Grinnell's Statement on Undocumented Students

December 13, 2016

Special Campus Memo

December 13, 2017

Dear Grinnellians,
Before the semester draws to a close, we wanted to provide more information about how the College is supporting our undocumented students.

Amid growing concerns about potential changes in federal immigration policy, a national discussion about the concept of "sanctuary campuses" has emerged. At Grinnell, we are deeply committed to the goal of ensuring the ability of all our students to continue to pursue their educations. We also note that the concept of "sanctuary" isn't recognized under federal law. This may create uncertainty regarding the actual ability of the College to challenge legal authorities. It also could attract attention that actually makes it harder to support students.

In keeping with our social justice mission and our abolitionist history, however, we are fully prepared to take several clear and affirmative steps to assist them. These include the following:

  • Advocacy if a student misses class due to required immigration appointments;
  • Referral to legal support (in most cases, the student already has legal support);
  • Advocacy related to access to health insurance and/or health care (including mental health);
  • Advice/referral regarding encounters with law enforcement (in campus life scenarios);
  • Answers to questions about off-campus study;
  • Advising related to access to CLS internship grant funding;
  • Financial, logistical, and emotional support when status prevents access to employment.

About DACA

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy is an Obama administration executive order that provides relief from deportation to specific individuals, particularly young people. It's not a law or regulation, so the new administration could easily change or rescind it. The American Council on Education recommends that students with DACA status who have plans to study abroad after Jan. 20 make alternative, U.S.-based plans. If DACA is rescinded while students with that status are out of the country, they may not be able to return.

See the statement President Kington and hundreds of other college and university presidents signed in support of DACA and undocumented immigrant students. More info about DACA.

Privacy of student data

In accordance with the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), all students have a right to keep their educational records private, including students with DACA status. Grinnell is fully compliant with regulations and does not disclose the citizenship status of its students without their express consent unless required to by a subpoena, warrant, or court order.

The College's next steps

College staff are taking numerous steps, including the following:

  • Improving website resources for undocumented students;
  • Consulting with legal counsel and becoming more informed about and trained in the legalities and complexities of supportive steps taken by other campuses;
  • Reviewing policies that regulate law enforcement visits to campus;
  • Identifying staff members who can answer students' questions about how they may be affected by possible changes in immigration policy and practice.

For more information

If you would like more information or support, please contact Karen Edwards, associate dean and director of International Student Affairs, 269-3703,, or Lakesia Johnson, assistant vice president and chief diversity officer, 269-9801,

We are deeply concerned about the possible changes to immigration law that may affect our students and will continue to work in support of all our students.

We all wish you a safe and restful break.

Raynard S. Kington, President
Michael E. Latham, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the College, and Professor of History
Angela Voos, Chief of Staff, Vice President for Strategic Planning, and Title IX Coordinator
Joe Bagnoli, Vice President for Enrollment, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid
Andrea Conner, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs
Lakesia Johnson, Assistant Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, and Associate Professor of Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies
David Cook-Martín, Assistant Vice President for Global Education, Senior International Officer, and Professor of Sociology
Henry Rietz '89, Professor of Religious Studies
Karen Edwards, Associate Dean and Director of International Student Affairs

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