Declare University of Hawaiʻi a Sanctuary System for International & Undocumented Students

Declare University of Hawaiʻi a Sanctuary System for International & Undocumented Students

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Noah Howins started this petition to University of Hawaiʻi and

The recent policy change by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s Student Exchange and Visitor Program requires all international students taking a completely online course load to voluntarily leave the United States or face deportation. The policy also states that if a university moves completely online for any reason midway through the semester, international students must leave the United States within 10 days. While President Lassner declared the order “unfair, harmful and inappropriate” in a statement sent out to the UH community on July 9th, this statement alone is not enough to bring about the change necessary to protect rights of international students at the University of Hawai’i. We call upon the University of Hawaiʻi and President David Lassner to immediately begin the process of making our campus a sanctuary for the international students and undocumented immigrants who are threatened by ICE’s damaging and draconian F1 visa policies. It is absolutely imperative that UH campuses be declared a sanctuary for international students. Without this declaration, these problems will continue to arise and will constantly require unique solutions in each instance. However, as a sanctuary system refusing all cooperation with ICE, we can provide a place of refuge for those that would be persecuted by the U.S. government for no reason other than the “crime” of not being born on U.S. soil. We signees recognize that humans are humans regardless of their place of birth and therefore we are calling for fair and equal treatment for all races and nationalities. 


With our location as the main hub linking Asia and North America, the University of Hawaiʻi hosts 2,000+ international, immigrant, and undocumented students on F-1 and J-1 visas who play vital roles in the teaching, research, and daily operations at our institution. They are our friends, colleagues, students, and teachers. This misguided order is cruel, discriminatory, xenophobic, and an affront to our international student community. This inhumane policy forces international students to choose between facing a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 through in-person classes or deportation due to visa cancellation. This policy not only puts the over 2,000 international students of the University of Hawaiʻi at risk, but also threatens the health and safety of 1,000,000+ international students across the United States, as well as the countless American faculty and students taking in-person classes. 


In 2016, as President-elect, Trump, was about to take office, the UH community called upon UH administration to declare UH a sanctuary system to protect undocumented students from the violent deportation regime of ICE and the incoming Trump administration. UH administration refused to declare UH a sanctuary system, while affirming protections and support of undocumented students. Four years later, international students were forced to wait in panic and fear for days before administration communicated opposition to the recent ICE order and affirmation of their commitment to protecting our community. Had administration responded to the call in 2016 to create a sanctuary system, like many other colleges and universities across the U.S., the recent alarm surrounding the ICE order could have been avoided. When the next xenophobic order emerges from ICE, will we be here again, fearing for the safety of our community? Declaring UH a sanctuary system means all members of the UH community, regardless of immigration or citizenship status, can feel safe knowing our institution will never comply with ICE to target and deport our neighbors, colleagues, and friends.


We students, staff, faculty, and supporters who make up the University of Hawaiʻi community strongly urge the UH administration and President Lassner to designate the UH System a “sanctuary system”. Specifically this would entail:

- Declaring the University of Hawaiʻi System and its campuses and facilities as a sanctuary for international, immigrant, and undocumented students, workers, and community members.

-Refusing to share information about students’ curriculum with ICE and related federal agencies.

- Refusing to house or support ICE officials on UH campuses. 

- Reaffirming current admission, tuition, and employment policies regarding international students, and ensuring that any financial awards or employment given to international students are not withdrawn due to visa complications.

Considering that Hawai’i is one of the greatest cultural melting pots on the planet today and that the the University of Hawaiʻi system has long claimed to be stewards of cultural exchange, we asked that the administration and President Lassner  live up to the reputation they advertise and be true leaders by protecting international, undocumented, and immigrant students to ensure equal access to  education in the United States without fear of imprisonment and deportation.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!