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Editorial: State can't stop sanctuary schools

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, March 10, 2017 05:01 am
So far, no Indiana college or university has declared itself a “sanctuary campus,” but it’s been discussed by students and teachers at several, including Ball State, Indiana University and Notre Dame. So the question is, should the state take some kind of preemptive action? State Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, thinks so. His Senate Bill 423 would  make sanctuary universities illegal in Indiana — a move that would prohibit universities from admitting undocumented immigrants with some exceptions. The legislation as worded now would apply only to the state’s seven public universities, but some legislators have suggested extending the measure to any private universities that receive any federal funds.

Young is right that it just that it makes sense to require universities to comply with state and federal government: “We are a nation and a state of laws. We require our government entities to follow our laws.”

It is problematic enough when school districts (including Fort Wayne Community Schools) declare they are not going to cooperate with authorities on students’ immigration status. It would be defensible for them to say they’re not going to seek out students’ status; that’s not part of the education mission. But they’re saying more — they’re not going to do anything even when they know a student’s status is “undocumented.” That puts them in the difficult position of explaining why some laws should be followed and some shouldn’t.

Granting oneself sanctuary status takes flouting of the law to a whole new level. It is, in fact, proclaiming proudly that one is above the law. Try explaining that it a civics class, if indeed there is still such a thing.

The problem is that this issue is not in the state’s jurisdiction.

The General Assembly has already declared sanctuary cities illegal in Indiana, which it has the clear authority to do. But anything involving immigration is in the jurisdiction of the federal government. It is Washington’s job to determine what punishment is appropriate for which violation of federal law.

Of course, our immigration policy is in such a tangled mess today because the federal government has for decades been ignoring it own immigration laws. That has sent a powerful message: If Washington doesn’t think its laws are worth taking seriously, why should anybody else?

To think, we now have a nation in near-meltdown over the fact that an administration actually proposes to enforce the laws that are on the books. Strange days, indeed. 


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