Oregon State University cannot provide legal advice to individuals. This material is for informational purposes only and individuals are strongly recommended to promptly seek an attorney to discuss their unique circumstances.

For additional resources related to these FAQs, including information regarding legal service providers, please visit the Sancturary Univeristy Resources page.

If you have questions regarding these FAQs, please contact diversity@oregonstate.edu.

Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How will federal immigration laws change and what is Oregon State University’s role?

The President-Elect’s transition is still in its early stages.  Policy priorities related to immigration and civil rights for the incoming administration, and the next Congress, are still taking shape. Oregon State University (OSU) values all of its community members and will continue to be vigilant, active, and in close communication with the Oregon governor and our federal legislators in order to protect and respect the interests and the rights of OSU students, faculty, staff, and their families.

  • OSU has been actively involved at both the state and federal level in gathering information and directly notifying the Governor and Oregon’s Congressional delegation of our concerns.  We are confident that both the federal delegation and the Governor are aware of our interest in protecting the rights of OSU students, faculty, staff, and their families. 
  • We will continue to be in close communication over the weeks and months with the Governor, federal policymakers and national partners to monitor all developments related to undocumented student immigrants, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and related policy priorities of the incoming administration, and Congress.  We will keep the OSU community apprised of any key developments.

What do the conditions described in President Ray’s 11/21/16 Sanctuary University message mean in terms of the university’s policy?    

OSU is within its legal rights to decline to voluntarily provide information to assist the federal government with deportation enforcement, and will exercise these rights as a Sanctuary University.

  • There is no federal law that requires OSU to assist the US Dept. of Homeland Security, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with federal immigration enforcement, such as detainment, arrest, or volunteering information. This means that OSU does not enforce federal immigration law.  
  • The OSU Dept. of Public Safety does not voluntarily collect or provide immigration status information to ICE.  For example, the OSU Dept. of Public Safety will not ask for immigration status information related to violation of an OSU policy, such as a parking or marijuana violation.  OSU would oppose changes to any law that would require OSU to engage in federal immigration law enforcement. 
  • OSU complies with federal and state laws that apply to the university. For example, OSU must verify the immigration status of OSU employees.  OSU must ask for immigration status information for newly hired employees, including student employees, as required by law. As well, when a student seeks federal government student financial aid, OSU is required to ask for immigration status information and provide that information to the US Dept. of Education. This is different than enforcing federal immigration laws, which OSU does not do.
  • In accordance with law, OSU will only provide student immigration status or other information to the federal government in deportation actions if we have consent from the student involved, a valid subpoena, warrant or court order, or an emergency health or safety reason. For example, an emergency health or safety reason would allow OSU to provide necessary information to law enforcement to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals if a student was making suicide or death threats. See below for more information on subpoenas, warrants and court orders.

What information does OSU collect regarding a student’s undocumented immigration status?

OSU does not automatically require undocumented immigration status information from students.  There are limited circumstances when OSU is required by law to ask for immigration status information, such as when hiring student employees or if students choose to seek federal or state student financial aid that requires OSU to ask for this information. For example, an undocumented student may choose to seek in-state tuition under Oregon Tuition Equity, ORS 352.287, and submit information that the student meets the requirements of the program.  OSU would not voluntarily release any student Oregon Tuition Equity information without a valid subpoena, warrant or court order.

What is a subpoena, warrant and court order that can be issued by federal immigration officials?

General Definitions:

  • Court Order: is a written direction or command delivered by a court or a judge. Subpoenas and warrants are types of court orders.
  • Subpoena: is an order from a court or tribunal requiring a person to appear before the court or tribunal; a subpoena can also require a person or an entity (like a university) to bring or provide specified documents or records.
  • Warrant: is a court order directing or authorizing someone to do an act, usually directing a law enforcement officer to make an arrest, a search, or a seizure of property or a person.

When a subpoena, warrant or court order can be issued:

  • The US Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review conducts immigration court proceedings.  Immigration court judges can issue court orders related to immigration court proceedings.
  • With authorization from the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review, the US Department of Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can issue subpoenas and warrants related to alleged federal immigration law violations. ICE must show to the US Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review that the scope of the subpoena or warrant requested is both relevant and important to the ICE’s case to prove the alleged violation of immigration laws.
  • ICE cannot issue subpoenas and warrants for local or state law violations or federal non-immigration law violations, unless there is a conviction that constitutes a federal immigration violation.
  • Current ICE policy limits immigration enforcement actions at or focused on sensitive locations, including universities. The policy generally states that enforcement actions should be avoided at sensitive locations, which are defined to include “post-secondary schools up to and including colleges and universities, and other institutions of learning such as vocational or trade schools.” See: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/ero-outreach/pdf/10029.2-policy.pdf

Challenging a Subpoena, Warrant or Court Order: 

  • Someone who is the subject of a subpoena, warrant or court order can seek legal advice, specific to that person’s specific circumstances, from ASOSU Legal Services or their personal attorney regarding the grounds to object to or challenge the subpoena or warrant.  
  • OSU’s Office of General Counsel will review carefully any subpoena, warrant or court order issued to OSU to determine whether the document is enforceable and valid on its face.
  • In situations involving group deportations, internments or registries, or significant impact to the University as a whole, OSU would seek to take additional steps to challenge the subpoenas, warrants and court orders issued to it.

What actions can OSU take if immigration policy at the federal level changes?

OSU’s ability to act will depend on if changes are made and how those changes interplay with federal and state laws. 

  • Any law requiring state personnel to enforce federal immigration laws is likely to be challenged in court by the states (including state entities like OSU) under the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.  The 10th Amendment protects states’ rights: https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/tenth_amendment
  • OSU can and will express its concerns with elected representatives and government officials.
  • Universities across the country are talking about issues of similar concern. On policy proposals that give OSU great concern, we will seek to build a strong coalition of university presidents through APLU (Association Public and Land-grant Universities) and with other organizations to better effect change. For example, President Ray signed the Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students, which has been signed by over 400 university presidents: https://www.pomona.edu/news/2016/11/21-college-university-presidents-call-us-uphold-and-continue-daca 
  • Students concerned about undocumented immigration status or DACA may benefit from additional resources, including the Immigration Legal Resource Center’s Post-Election Talking Points and Resources: https://www.ilrc.org/sites/default/files/resources/post-election_talking_points.pdf.

How can students proactively act, rather than waiting to see what happens after the new administration takes office?

Students with legal questions are strongly encouraged to promptly seek legal advice for their specific personal and family circumstances. Students may seek legal advice through ASOSU Legal Services or an outside attorney. Individuals may actively participate in the political process, such as expressing their viewpoints and concerns to elected representatives and government officials.

  • OSU ASOSU Legal Services – provides free attorney consultations directly to any OSU student, regardless of where the student is located. These attorneys are not OSU employees, but are contractors and these attorneys have a direct attorney-client relationship and privilege/confidentiality with OSU students. Information provided by a student to these attorneys is not OSU information. OSU does not access that information and could not provide that information pursuant to a subpoena, warrant or court order to OSU. If ASOSU Legal Services received a subpoena, warrant or court order for this information, then they would likely object based on attorney-client privilege grounds. ASOSU Legal Services can be reached at (541) 737-4165 or http://asosu.oregonstate.edu/legal-advising
  • Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service – initial 30 min. consultation for $35 with a member of the Oregon State Bar - (1-800-452-7636) or http://www.osbar.org/public/ris/
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association Immigration Lawyer Referral Service – provides referrals to immigration attorneys across the US - http://www.ailalawyer.com/

Is OSU federal funding at risk because OSU is a Sanctuary University?

Changes to OSU’s federal funding would be extremely difficult without Congressional action.  Both federal executive actions and changes to federal laws affecting OSU’s federal funding on the basis of OSU establishing itself as a Sanctuary University would be subject to legal scrutiny, including legal scrutiny on separation of powers and delegation of authority. OSU would oppose any effort to provide executive or statutory authority for such actions.

What does it mean for Oregon to be a “Sanctuary State” and what are the limitations/boundaries of this policy?

While the word “sanctuary” is commonly defined as a sacred place or refuge, there is no legal definition of “sanctuary state/county/city/university/etc.”  Each entity defines its own sanctuary policies and practices.  Many sanctuary policies and practices are intended to ensure undocumented immigrants feel secure in going to the police for help and cooperating if they have information that can aid law enforcement.

What role, if any, does OSP play in carrying out state policy?

Oregon State Police (OSP) is the legal enforcement unit of the State of Oregon and is under contract to provide services to OSU.  OSP is a separate legal entity from OSU and is advised by the Oregon Department of Justice, not OSU’s Office of the General Counsel.

  • OSP can enforce state laws on OSU’s campus.  
  • OSP is subject to ORS 181A.820, a state statute that prohibits Oregon law enforcement entities from using resources to detect or apprehend someone whose only violation of law is a federal immigration law violation.  However, OSP may exchange information with US Department of Homeland Security Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to verify the immigration status of a person arrested for a crime or request criminal investigation information with reference to persons named in ICE, US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, or US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection records.  OSP may also arrest any person charged with a criminal violation of federal immigration laws and for whom a federal arrest warrant has been issued. This state statute does not allow Oregon law enforcement to conduct random immigration status checks.