Sanctuary Campuses Now Banned Under Indiana Law

May 3, 2017

Indiana has officially outlawed so-called sanctuary campuses, colleges and universities that pledge they won’t share anyone’s immigration status with federal authorities.

A bill signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb bans higher education institutions from officially pledging non-cooperation with immigration authorities. If one does, the state would be able to file a civil suit and a court could enjoin the institution.

A 2011 Indiana law bars cities and towns from declaring sanctuary status or interfering with immigration authorities’ work to enforce immigration laws. This now extends to the role colleges and universities might take in protecting people who entered the U.S. illegally.

Since the Trump administration prioritized crackdowns on unauthorized immigration, colleges and universities have been in the crosshairs. Across the country and here in Indiana, many students and faculty pushed administrations to declare sanctuary status – including Indiana University, University of Notre Dame and Ball State University. In one instance, protestors interrupted a speech by a top IU official to demand a sanctuary campus.

No Indiana college or university declared that status.

In February, Rev. John I. Jenkins, University of Notre Dame president, officially declared it would not be a sanctuary campus. In a letter to staff, he said Notre Dame would only share someone’s citizenship status if legally required.

Publicly declaring sanctuary could draw unwanted attention from authorities, he said, and there are better ways to support students.

Supporters of the law say colleges and universities shouldn’t be able to cherry-pick which federal laws they follow or which authorities they cooperate with.

Still, sanctuary campus proponents say colleges and universities are obligated to protect their students.