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An open letter to President Tessier-Lavigne, Provost Etchemendy, and Provost Drell

Since the launch of our petition for Stanford to become a sanctuary campus, we have collected over 2,400 signatures, which helped prompt a massive, campus-wide walk-out in support of our mission. We envision Stanford becoming a model in the sanctuary campus movement by acting as an engaged community partner and dedicating university resources to affirm the rights and dignity of immigrant communities both on campus and in the broader Bay Area.

In response to our collective efforts, the university issued a statement reiterating Stanford's longstanding support of the DREAM Act and joined nearly 400 colleges and universities calling for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be “upheld, continued, and expanded” by the new administration. We applaud the university's prompt response.

However, Stanford’s statements have not addressed how the university will concretely mobilize resources to support immigrant communities. The university claims that Stanford cannot act further because "the university does not know and cannot speculate about what federal immigration laws or policies may be adopted in the future, or what the impact at Stanford might be.” Such a stance downplays the severe anti-immigrant threat posed by the incoming administration, a reality strikingly clear to targeted communities and their advocates. Immigrant communities are preparing for a brutal, anti-immigrant political program. Now is the time to join these efforts, and we urge Stanford to fulfill this responsibility to meaningfully support immigrant communities. Stanford must move beyond symbolic gestures and toward concrete "commitment[s] to members of our community who are undocumented."

Our Demands:

1) Explicitly practice need-blind admissions for all applicants, including undocumented candidates and international candidates.

As a well-resourced private institution, Stanford has the capacity to ensure that students of all immigration and financial backgrounds have access to an outstanding college education. Under the current admissions policy, Stanford is only need-blind for U.S. citizens and legal noncitizens. This policy systematically discriminates against undocumented applicants, who are often from lower income households, putting us behind peer institutions like HarvardMITPrincetonand Yale, which offer need-blind admission and meet the full demonstrated financial need for undocumented students and international students. We expect the university to proactively provide clear and comprehensive information for undocumented applicants and students, as is available from other universities.

2) Protect and support those most vulnerable to deportation, surveillance, and employment discrimination, specifically Muslim and undocumented individuals.

Stanford has a responsibility to support the entire Stanford community—students, university employees, and subcontracted workers—regardless of their immigration status. We urge the university to protect undocumented community members by committing not to disclose student, staff, or faculty information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI and to prohibit these agencies from operating on campus against undocumented individuals, Muslims, and community organizers. We seek a university and subcontractor-wide commitment to pro-immigrant employment practices, including the minimum legally required use of E-verify, a moratorium on internal I-9 inspections, and all possible notification of or protection from external I-9 inspections.

3) Devote financial and legal resources to support immigrants throughout the region.

The region surrounding our university is home to a significant number of undocumented immigrants—over 180,000 in Santa Clara County alone. As a major economic, political, and intellectual force, Stanford's institutional practices have enormous consequences for this vulnerable population. We demand that Stanford assess how it impacts this community beyond our classrooms, and ensure that our institutional practices—around real estate, employment, and investment—reflect the university's commitments to supporting undocumented communities. Finally, Stanford must scale up its material support to social justice organizations and activists in the community that provide services such as removal defense and naturalization aid, as well as encourage neighboring cities to implement sanctuary city policies.

Concluding remarks

Stanford’s Founding Grant states that the university shall “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Accordingly,  Stanford must actively support its undocumented community members at this pivotal moment. We demand that the administration manifest its stated commitments and enact the concrete actions outlined above to support undocumented people at Stanford and beyond. We look forward to working together to implement these changes as we strive towards a university that protects and values all its members.



  • Renata Martin, PhD Candidate, Department of Biology
  • César J. López Angel, MD/PhD Candidate
  • Cenobio Hernandez, ‘18
  • Eddy Albarran ‘13, PhD Candidate
  • Cynthia Amezcua, JD ‘19
  • Yvette Borja, JD ‘18
  • Daisy Hernandez MS ‘18, Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling
  • Jennifer DeCoste-López, MD ‘15, Stanford Pediatrics Resident
  • John Bonacorsi, JD’18
  • tyler bonnen, PhD Candidate
  • Kari Barclay, PhD Candidate, Theater and Performance Studies
  • Emma Hartung, ‘17
  • Tyler McFadden, PhD Candidate, Department of Biology
  • Ahzha McFadden, Teacher, Menlo-Atherton High School
  • Solveij Rosa Praxis, ‘17
  • Lily Hoffman-Andrews ‘18, MS, Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling