Rumors developed during week one of fall term that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was on Lane Community College’s Main Campus interrogating students about their immigration status. Some students worried about racial profiling and whether or not they should come to school.
The administration immediately responded to these rumors and confirmed with local federal agencies that these rumors were false.
“One of our first concerns is making sure students know the facts and that we don’t have students fearful to come to class.” Brett Rowlett Director of Public Affairs stated.
According to Rowlett, the rumor started as an erroneous Facebook post.
“[It] basically said, ICE was on LCC’s campus today, interrogating students. Be careful,” Rowlett then alerted other people at LCC to look into it.
Chief of Public Safety Jace Smith, confirmed this and pointed to a routine traffic stop as the possible cause for the rumor. Smith spoke with ICE agents and was assured as a courtesy ICE would alert the college of any kind of operation run on campus ahead of time. Smith does not anticipate any federal agency coming to the campus in the near future.
“The [ICE] officers there, they said they’ve been in the area for 16 years, one of them, and they said that ‘we’ve never conducted an operation like that at Lane Community College, nor do we have any plans to,’” Smith said.
Smith and ICE agents respect the role that trust must play in a hot-button issue like this and continuously work to be proactive in fostering a good reputation for law enforcement in the area.
LCC is considered a sensitive location by the Federal Government and as such is protected from surprise visits by a policy from 2011. Unless there is a direct threat to public safety or a life and death situation, the federal government will not be called to campus. As a sensitive location LCC is protected from arrests, interviews, searches, and surveillance for immigration enforcement.
LCC has been working to improve the communication lines between administration, Dreamer and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals students.
Right before school started, as a part of Lane Community College’s commitment to the idea of students first, the school released a statement urging the Trump Administration to maintain DACA. This statement came on the heels of a policy enacted in June as a response to the sanctuary campus movements. It states the school’s intention to protect immigrant students referring both to Affirmative Action and LCC’s Vision, Mission, and Values statement. The policy outlines procedures to be taken if law enforcement or federal officials come to campus looking for students, “[Employees are] required to refer the official to report to the President’s Office during regular business hours; or, if after hours, to the Public Safety Office.”
LCC has two on-campus staff positions that work with students. Jim Garcia, the Chicano/Latino Student Program Coordinator and faculty advisor to the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, stated that his role is, “An intentional effort by the college to be aware of issues that affect Latino students or Latino immigrants, although DACA applies to all communities.”
Garcia has been in this role for the last 12 years and when asked, many students spoke fondly of him and his role with the school. In the last year LCC also appointed Jerry deLeon, the Director of Gender Equality Center, to work specifically with undocumented and DACA students.
deLeon has compiled a long list of resources and is working with the college to create a website with all the information for DACA and Dreamer students. LCC is eager to get the information out there to help assure students in situations like this.
Public Information Officer Joan Aschim commented that, “Lane’s purpose is student success, so we will do everything to help students be here and get the education they need.”