Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Frequently asked questions

This material is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Am I eligible for federal relief under the CARES Act?

A Social Security Number (SSN) is required to qualify for the recovery rebate under CARES. People who use Individual Tax Identification Numbers (ITIN) are excluded from the direct cash assistance program. This means that people without lawful immigration status in the U.S. are not eligible for a rebate under the CARES Act. This also means mixed-status families are not eligible for the rebate, because the statute requires both parents to have a SSN, unless one is in the military. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients are eligible for SSNs, and for the CARES rebate, however.

See more information about the CARES Act.

Am I eligible for unemployment insurance?

In order to qualify for unemployment insurance benefits in Oregon, you must have lawful work authorization in the U.S. This means you must either be a citizen, a lawful permanent resident, or have an SSN and a valid employment authorization document (EAD or work card). This means that people without lawful immigration status in the U.S. are not eligible for unemployment benefits, regardless of work history. DACA recipients, however, are eligible for unemployment as long as they have unexpired EADs and otherwise meet the requirements for receiving unemployment insurance.

See more information on the expanded Oregon unemployment insurance program during the COVID-19 crisis.

Are there other sources of financial assistance available to me if I am undocumented?

What is the current status of the DACA program?

When will the Supreme Court make a decision about DACA?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments about the legality of the DACA program in November, 2019. The Court is likely to issue a decision on DACA sometime between now and June of 2020. The Court recently granted a request to allow additional briefing on the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has on a DACA decision, however.

What are the possible outcomes of the Supreme Court’s DACA Decision?

The Court could allow the DACA program to remain in place. This would be the best case scenario for DACA recipients, and would allow current recipients to continue renewing DACA, receiving work authorization, and living in the U.S. without fear of being targeted for deportation absent aggravating circumstances (such as criminal issues). It would depend on exactly what the court says in their decision whether USCIS would start accepting new DACA applications again, or applications for advance parole by DACA recipients.

The Court could allow the current President to terminate the DACA program, but leave open the possibility that if another President is elected in November 2020, the new administration could resurrect the DACA Program as a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

The Court could rule that the DACA program was illegal, or an unconstitutional overreach of power by President Obama. If the Court agrees with the current administration that the Executive Branch lacks the authority to create programs like DACA without the consent of Congress, then the DACA program will be terminated indefinitely, possibly forever. If that happens, USCIS will stop accepting new DACA applications as well as DACA renewals, likely immediately. It is possible that current DACA recipients’ work permits will remain valid until their listed expiration dates, but this will depend on the Court’s reasoning and how the administration reacts to the Court’s decision.

PCC cannot predict what the Supreme Court will decide about the fate of the DACA program, but we remain committed to the safety and security of all of our students, regardless of immigration status.

What happens if the Court terminates the DACA Program?

  • If the Supreme Court terminates DACA, it is unclear what the current administration will do with the information that immigrants have provided to them in their DACA applications, which includes statements that they did not have lawful status in the U.S. when they applied for DACA. PCC stands with all of its students, regardless of immigration status, and will do anything within its legal authority to protect DACA students and students without lawful immigration status.
  • If you reside in Oregon and you are put in removal proceedings, contact a community navigator to get connected with free removal defense services for those who cannot afford an attorney through Equity Corps of Oregon.
  • ACLU Know Your Rights – Immigrant Rights
  • Immigrant Legal Resource Center- Red Cards to print and carry with you (available in various languages).

What privacy protections do I have as a DACA recipient, or a student without any immigration status, if DACA is terminated?

The Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of undocumented or DACA students (along with that of all students, regardless of immigration status) is protected from release under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA prohibits schools from releasing educational records or most personally identifiable information without consent unless compelled to do so by a subpoena.

FERPA does not protect the employment records of DACA recipients employed by PCC, though it does protect their educational records.

Can I continue attending PCC if I lose my DACA status?

Yes. Students with any immigration status, including undocumented students, are welcome at PCC and should continue to have access to higher education. PCC stands with you whether or not you have DACA.

What happens to my financial aid package if I lose my DACA status?

In-state-tuition benefits in Oregon, and other ways to help pay for college are available to eligible undocumented students or students who lose DACA. You can start by filling out the ORSAA to be eligible for state financial aid. PCC also has a Dreamer’s Scholarship available to you. These resources will remain in place as these are state-level, not federal benefits.

What does it mean for PCC to be a sanctuary college?

In a resolution adopted on December 20, 2016, PCC’s Board of Directors defined the actions the college will take as a “sanctuary college”:

  • PCC will continue to uphold our legal obligation to protect the privacy rights of all students by observing the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). We will not release non-directory student information unless legally compelled to do so, and will continue to offer FERPA workshops to students to increase awareness of their rights under this law.
  • PCC public safety officers do not and will not enforce federal immigration laws as they do not have the legal authority to do so. Instead, they will remain committed to working to make PCC safe for all.
  • PCC will continue to engage the federal delegation representing the Portland region and Oregon state as well as federal and state agencies around these key issues.
  • PCC will continue to provide in-state tuition rates to all students who otherwise satisfy PCC’s residency guidelines.
  • The PCC Foundation will continue to help ensure that students in our region have access to an outstanding education at PCC regardless of their ability to pay. Foundation staff will work with donors interested in providing philanthropic support for the PCC DREAMers Scholarship for first generation, low-income students who are ineligible to apply for federal financial aid.
  • PCC will work with appropriate community partners to foster access to support services for undocumented immigrant students. We will continue to sponsor events, workshops and listening sessions to connect students to the resources and information they need. We will also research the feasibility of establishing resource centers, offices or sites for undocumented students.
  • PCC will redirect resources to the Office of Equity and Inclusion to increase its capacity to expand diversity, equity and inclusion training programs for PCC employees and students. Departments, councils and student groups will also continue to offer a variety of learning opportunities.
  • PCC will continue to build the college’s capacity for respectful and challenging dialogue across differences.

While it is important and responsible to acknowledge that the term “sanctuary college” has no legal status and does not confer legal protection to students or their families, it none-the-less offers a powerful statement of support to some of PCC’s most vulnerable students and their families at this time of uncertainty.

Is PCC legally required to assist the federal government with immigration enforcement?

There is currently no federal law that requires public institutions to assist the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with federal immigration enforcement activities such as detainment or arrest – or that requires proactive information sharing related to undocumented students or their families.

However, PCC complies with all federal or state laws that do apply to the college, including verifying employees’ (including student workers’) eligibility to work in the U.S., and collecting required immigration status information when a student seeks federal or state financial aid.

In accordance with law, PCC will only share student immigration status or other information with federal or state governments in deportation actions if the college has documented consent from the student, a valid subpoena, warrant or court order – or if there is an emergency health or safety concern (e.g. a threat of imminent violence).

What information does PCC collect regarding students’ immigration status?

There are limited circumstances under which PCC is required by law to request immigration status information. These include when students seek federal or state financial aid. PCC is also required by law to verify employment eligibility when hiring student employees. Verification of employment eligibility provided by student employees may include information related to their immigration status.

Employment records are subject to disclosure under Oregon’s Public Records Law. PCC will treat employment records relating to immigration status as exempt from disclosure to the extent allowed under Oregon law.

Are colleges and universities risking federal funding by naming themselves sanctuary colleges?

According to the American Council on Education:

At this time, no federal agencies that provide federal financial assistance to colleges and universities (e.g. the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation) have adopted policies to compel or even request active cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement by federal funds recipients [the colleges or universities themselves], or policies that would provide a specific basis on which to withhold funding.

It is worth noting that federal legislation could in future be proposed that might affect the receipt of federal funds by colleges or universities that designate themselves as sanctuary institutions. Any such legislation will be subject to the full legislative review and amendment process and potential legal challenges. These processes will provide ample opportunity to participate in or address the enactment of such legislation.

What will be the impact of President Trump’s January 25 executive order regarding “sanctuary jurisdictions”?

President Trump’s executive order clearly indicates his administration’s intent to address what it perceives to be too lenient enforcement of immigration laws. Full implementation of the order, however, will likely require Congressional appropriations, agreements with the states, and statutory/regulatory amendments, none of which can be unilaterally implemented by the president. PCC will continue to monitor federal actions and participate and intervene as necessary to support students and to advance our educational mission.

What actions will PCC take if immigration policy at the federal level changes?

PCC’s actions would depend on the changes themselves, and their relationship to existing federal and state laws. Any law requiring state personnel to enforce federal immigration laws is likely to be challenged in court by the states under the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution, which protects states’ rights.

It is important to note that no specific plans related to DACA have been proposed by President Trump to date, and it is far from clear that the new administration will prioritize immigration enforcement.

Should DACA students abroad consider returning to the U.S.?

According to the American Council on Education:
Any potential future change to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could have serious implications for students studying abroad. If DACA were rescinded while a DACA student is out of the country, there may be no way to return. DACA students studying abroad should make plans to return to the United States before the new administration takes office on January 20, 2017.

PCC Procedures Regarding Immigration Enforcement

Following his inauguration, the President issued several executive orders with directives regarding the enforcement of federal immigration law. Collectively, these orders are referred to as “Protecting the Homeland.” The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) then issued comprehensive policy orders implementing these executive orders. Immigration and Control Enforcement (“ICE”) is the federal agency within DHS that enforces all federal laws regarding border control, customs, trade, and immigration.

The Portland Community College (“PCC”) Board of Directors has established PCC as a “sanctuary college.” The Board stated that “[w]hile it is difficult to predict future federal policy changes or effects, it will always be imperative that every member of our PCC community feels safe and welcomed. It is also critical that we take this moment to affirm a fundamental obligation to support all students and safeguard their privacy rights.” (See complete board statement.)

PCC’s Procedure Regarding Immigration Enforcement outlines the steps that PCC staff should take if ICE agents seek to enforce immigration laws at any PCC campus or center. This FAQ addresses additional questions that have been raised by some staff and students.

What are the recent significant changes to federal immigration enforcement policy?

DHS has issued new policies that carry out the President’s executive orders on Protecting the Homeland. Some of the major changes in these policies include:

  • Elimination of most of the previously exempt categories for enforcement
  • “Sparing” use of parole in lieu of detention, and only in cases of “demonstrated urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit”
  • Higher level of proof for asylum claims
  • Elimination of some of the privacy rights previously afforded to undocumented persons in immigration proceedings
  • Allocation of significant new resources for enforcement agents and detention centers

See the DHS website for details.

Can ICE enforce immigration laws on college campuses?

Yes, under specific circumstances. DHS’s 2011 “sensitive location enforcement” policy, which limits enforcement at locations such as schools (including colleges and universities), is still in place. However, that guidance permits some enforcement activities on campus and allows for discretion by ICE agents.

What is the intent of DHS’s 2011 “sensitive location enforcement” policy?

The sensitive location enforcement policy is meant to ensure that ICE officers and agents exercise sound judgment when enforcing federal law at or focused on sensitive locations and make substantial efforts to avoid unnecessarily alarming local communities.” But the policy does not prohibit all ICE enforcement on campus. The policy states: “The policy is not intended to categorically prohibit lawful enforcement operations when there is an immediate need for enforcement action as outlined below. ICE officers and agents may carry out an enforcement action covered by this policy without prior approval from headquarters when one of the following exigent circumstances exists: the enforcement action involves a national security or terrorism matter; there is an imminent risk of death, violence, or physical harm to any person or property; the enforcement action involves the immediate arrest or pursuit of a dangerous felon, terrorist suspect, or any other individual(s) that present an imminent danger to public safety; or there is an imminent risk of destruction of evidence material to an ongoing criminal case.”

What ICE enforcement actions are covered by DHS’s 2011 “sensitive location enforcement” policy?

The enforcement actions covered by this policy are (1) arrests; (2) interviews; (3) searches; and (4) for purposes of immigration enforcement only, surveillance.

What ICE enforcement actions are not covered by DHS’s 2011 “sensitive location enforcement” policy?

“Actions not covered by this policy include actions such as obtaining records, documents and similar materials from officials or employees, providing notice to officials or employees, serving subpoenas, [etc.]”

Thus, ICE agents can enforce immigration laws on college campuses when “exigent circumstances” exist or to carry out more “routine” enforcement actions such as obtaining records. ICE agents appear to have fairly wide discretion to determine whether exigent circumstances exist and whether an enforcement activity is considered “routine.”

Will PCC give student educational records to ICE agents?

PCC will only provide student records to ICE when required to by law.

Generally, ICE must issue a subpoena to PCC listing the specific student information ICE is seeking. If ICE issues a subpoena for student information, PCC will provide prior notice to the student before releasing the information as required under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”). Since PCC’s Privacy Policies do not designate any student information as “directory information,” there is no category of information that PCC will release without a subpoena or another legal requirement.

What should faculty or staff do if asked for student information by ICE?

In accordance with the PCC Procedure Regarding Immigration Enforcement, any ICE agent seeking information should be immediately referred to the Vice President of Student Affairs or Campus Dean of Student Development. Subpoenas will be handled by that office according to existing college procedures.

It is possible that an ICE agent may also assert that exigent circumstances exist and that they must have immediate access to student records without a subpoena. In that case, PCC faculty or staff should comply with the ICE agent’s directive and provide the requested records.

What should PCC faculty or staff do if an ICE agent attempts to detain or arrest someone on campus?

Under the PCC Procedure Regarding Immigration Enforcement, staff should request that the ICE agent contact the Vice President of Student Affairs or the Dean of Student Development at your campus before seeking to detain or arrest someone on campus. But if the ICE agent declines to do so and seeks to immediately carry out a detention or arrest, staff should not interfere with the ICE agent.

If an ICE agent does not have a warrant and does not state that exigent circumstances exist, staff may inform the ICE agent that the ICE agent may not have the legal authority to carry out the detention or arrest. Staff must act calmly and respectfully. In no event should a staff member seek to physically interfere with or obstruct an ICE agent, even if the staff person believes the ICE agent does not have the authority to take a specific action.

Will PCC campus security assist ICE in enforcing federal immigration laws?

No. The Board of Directors states that “PCC public safety officers do not and will not enforce federal immigration laws as they do not have the legal authority to do so. Instead, they will remain committed to working to make PCC safe for all.”

Enforcement of federal immigration law is the responsibility of the federal government. Under established law, the federal government cannot compel state or local jurisdictions to enforce federal law.

What if I don’t cooperate with an ICE agent?

PCC faculty and staff should remain calm and respectful and follow PCC Procedure Regarding Immigration Enforcement if approached by ICE.

Interference with any law enforcement agent seeking to enforce the law, including ICE, can be considered “obstruction of justice,” which is a criminal offense. “Obstruction of justice” includes, but is not limited to, acts intended to delay or prevent officers from carrying out a search or arrest, and the alteration or destruction of records. Accordingly, PCC faculty or staff who obstruct any law enforcement agent, is at personal risk of criminal charges.

If staff have concerns that ICE agents have acted improperly, those concerns should be raised with the Vice President of Student Affairs.

If I require a subpoena from ICE, am I committing obstruction of justice?

No. It is appropriate to request a subpoena if ICE is requesting access to protected information or seeking to detain someone.

Can PCC staff be disciplined for refusing to follow the PCC Procedure Regarding Immigration Enforcement?

PCC staff are responsible for following all PCC policies and procedures, including the Procedure Regarding Immigration Enforcement. Staff who violate policies and procedures may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

Will PCC defend staff who are named in a lawsuit involving ICE enforcement on campus?

Under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, PCC defends and indemnifies any employee against claims against them arising out of an alleged act or omission occurring in the performance of work within the course and scope of employment. This protection does not apply “in case of malfeasance in office or willful or wanton neglect of duty. If an employee is named in a lawsuit related to ICE enforcement on campus, PCC will work with that employee to evaluate the claim and provide the protections required under state law.

Will PCC provide information about PCC staff to ICE?

ICE has the authority to issue a “Notice of Inspection” to conduct audits to ensure that employers are in compliance with immigration laws. As part of these audits, ICE can require employers to turn over I-9 forms, payroll records, and other supporting documentation. Any ICE audit of PCC’s employment records or practices will be handled by Human Resources. The timeframe to respond to a “Notice of Inspection” is extremely limited. Therefore, anyone receiving a “Notice of Inspection” from an ICE agent should immediately contact Human Resources.

What is the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program?

There have been no official changes to the DACA program. The President indicated that he intends to review and/or limit DACA, but has not issued an executive order specifically related to the DACA program. The recently issued DHS policies indicate that they do not apply to DACA recipients, but it is not clear exactly what this means. Based on recent news reports regarding immigration actions involving DACA recipients, DACA students do not appear to be exempt from immigration enforcement.

PCC will support DACA students to the full extent of the law. This website lists services for PCC students, which staff may direct students with questions to.

Could sanctuary colleges such as PCC lose federal funding?

PCC does not believe so, but this is a complex question. The executive order entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” states that sanctuary jurisdictions “willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States,” and provides that the federal government “shall ensure that [sanctuary] jurisdictions * * * are not eligible to receive Federal grants, except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes.” See the full text of this executive order. PCC is not willfully violating federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States and PCC is in compliance with its obligations with respect to federal funds as it understands them.

Several lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of this order, primarily on the grounds that enforcement of immigration law is the responsibility of the federal government, and that under the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, state or local governments cannot be penalized for refusing to enforce federal law. Any attempt by the federal government to withhold funds from a state or local jurisdiction will very likely be met with complex, protracted litigation as well as legislative challenges.

What other actions is PCC taking to support students?

  • The PCC Board of Directors listed the following additional actions PCC will take to support students:
  • PCC will continue to engage the federal delegation representing the Portland region and Oregon state as well as federal and state agencies around these key issues.
  • PCC will continue to provide in-state tuition rates to all students who otherwise satisfy PCC’s residency guidelines.
  • The PCC Foundation will continue to help ensure that students in our region have access to an outstanding education at PCC regardless of their ability to pay. Foundation staff will work with donors interested in providing philanthropic support for the PCC DREAMers Scholarship for first generation, low-income students who are ineligible to apply for federal financial aid.
  • PCC will work with appropriate community partners to foster access to support services for undocumented immigrant students. We will continue to sponsor events, workshops and listening sessions to connect students to the resources and information they need. We will also research the feasibility of establishing resource centers, offices or sites for undocumented students.
  • PCC will redirect resources to the Office of Equity and Inclusion to increase its capacity to expand diversity, equity and inclusion training programs for PCC employees and students. Departments, councils and student groups will also continue to offer a variety of learning opportunities.
  • PCC will continue to build the college’s capacity for respectful and challenging dialogue across differences.

I have additional questions. Whom should I contact?

Please contact us at 971-722-7983