Access and opportunity for all
Message from the PCC President
Recently members of the PCC community have expressed concern about the impact of potential changes in federal immigration policy for the college’s undocumented and documented immigrant students – and about potential changes in federal laws and policies that protect individuals from discrimination and harassment.
While 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.
At the heart of Portland Community College is a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. These values are essential to the college’s mission, to our accreditation themes, to the Board’s goals and objectives, and to the college’s strategic plan. Indeed, one key intention within PCC’s strategic plan is to “create a nationally renowned culture for diversity, equity and inclusion.”
In keeping with these values, the Portland Community College Board of Directors has moved to apply the term “sanctuary college” to PCC.
PCC strives to be a catalyst for change and hope for our entire student body – a place that values dialogue, civic engagement and learning. By taking the steps outlined here and by enhancing pathways for equitable success across the college, we hope to help all students meet their full potential. This is the promise of educational access and opportunity that defines Portland Community College – now and always.
President, Portland Community College
“Sanctuary College” resolution
On December 20, 2016, the PCC Board of Directors resolved to apply the term sanctuary college to PCC. Here is what that means:
- 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.
PCC procedure regarding immigration enforcement
In December 2016, the Portland Community College (“PCC”) Board of Directors established PCC as a “sanctuary college” that prioritizes a safe and welcoming environment for all students, as seen above.
In accordance with the Board of Directors’ designation of PCC as a sanctuary college, access to PCC campuses by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents creates a risk of substantial disruption of the campus environment and to PCC’s mission to provide “access to quality education while advancing economic development and promoting sustainability in a collaborative culture of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
This procedure sets forth the steps that PCC staff should take if ICE seeks to engage in any type of immigration law enforcement at any PCC campus or center.
These definitions are for the purposes of this PCC procedure and are not intended to reflect comprehensive criminal legal standards.
- “Exigent circumstances”: In general, exigent circumstances exist when a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that a criminal violation has occurred, but does not have sufficient time to secure a warrant before conducting a search or seizure. For the purposes of immigration enforcement on school campuses, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has deemed exigent circumstances to exist “when 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.” DHS 2011 Policy 10029.2 re Sensitive Location Enforcement.
- “FERPA”: FERPA refers to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the law that establishes the confidentiality of student educational records and the conditions under which those records can be released. PCC’s policies protect the confidentiality of all student information, and generally student information cannot be released without a subpoena, a warrant, or prior consent of the student. See PCC Privacy Policies.
- “ICE”: ICE refers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency within DHS that enforces all federal laws regarding border control, customs, trade, and immigration.
- “Obstruction of law enforcement”: Generally, any act that interferes with an official seeking to carry out the administration of law enforcement can constitute obstruction of law enforcement. Obstruction of law enforcement 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. Obstruction of law enforcement is a criminal offense.
- “Sanctuary college”: As indicated above, the Board of Directors established PCC as a sanctuary college. The Board of Directors provided the following context about the “sanctuary college” designation: “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 our most vulnerable students and their families at this time of uncertainty.”
- “Subpoena”: A subpoena is a legally enforceable order to produce documents or to appear as a witness in a legal matter. ICE has the authority to issue subpoenas.
- “Warrant”: A warrant is a document that authorizes a law enforcement officer to make an arrest, search premises, or carry out some other action relating to the administration of law enforcement. In general, a warrant is required under the Fourth Amendment for a search or seizure in certain locations, unless exigent circumstances exist.
Procedures for PCC staff to follow regarding ICE enforcement on campus
In accordance with the directive of the Board of Directors, PCC staff must protect the confidentiality of student and staff information to the extent allowed under the law. At the same time, PCC staff must not obstruct ICE officers or interfere with the administration of law enforcement. The following procedures establish the steps that PCC staff should take if ICE agents enter a PCC campus or center.
- If an ICE agent enters a PCC campus or center seeking information or records about a student, staff should immediately direct the ICE agent to the Vice President of Student Affairs, or Campus Dean of Student Development.
- Staff should not informally share any information about a PCC student with an ICE agent, including the student’s name, contact information, or schedule. Providing student information without a warrant, a subpoena, or the student’s prior consent is a violation of FERPA and PCC policies. All requests from ICE for student information must be handled through the Vice President of Student Affairs unless ICE asserts exigent circumstances as described in paragraph E.
- If an ICE agent seeks student information from the Vice President of Student Affairs, staff in that office should ask the ICE agent to provide the agent’s credentials or badge and a subpoena that specifies the information or records that the ICE agent is seeking. A subpoena will provide a date by which records must be provided. Staff should respond to the subpoena in accordance with existing procedures, which is primarily managed through the Registrar’s Office. Staff should not share any student information or records that are not listed in the subpoena.
- If an ICE agent enters a PCC campus or center with a warrant to conduct a search or seizure, staff should request that the ICE agent contact the Vice President of Student Affairs or Campus Dean of Student Development. If the ICE agent refuses to do so and insists on immediate enforcement of the warrant, staff may ask to see the warrant but should allow the ICE agent to conduct the search or seizure. If the ICE agent does not have a warrant, staff should not voluntarily consent to a search or seizure. Again, staff should direct the ICE agent to the Vice President of Student Affairs or Campus Dean of Student Development.
- As indicated above, ICE agents must generally have a subpoena or warrant in order to receive student information or records or to conduct a search or seizure. The only exception to this is in the case of exigent circumstances. If an ICE agent asserts that exigent circumstances exist, and the ICE agent must immediately carry out a search or seizure, then PCC staff should cooperate with the ICE agent’s instructions.
- At no time should PCC staff engage in the obstruction of law enforcement. As with all law enforcement, staff should treat ICE agents in a respectful and calm manner. If a staff member has concerns that ICE agents have acted improperly, they should raise those concerns with the Vice President of Student Affairs. If a PCC staff person chooses not to follow these procedures and engages in an obstruction of law enforcement, the staff member is at personal risk of criminal charges.
Additional considerations regarding immigration enforcement matters
In addition to the directives above regarding ICE activity on campus, staff are directed as follows:
- Staff, including campus security officers, may not inquire about a student’s immigration status, nor may staff maintain records that are evidence of a student’s immigration status. Immigration status may be collected and maintained for international students and specific programs, where it is required for specific reasons. If there are other particular circumstances in which information about a student’s immigration status is relevant to specific PCC programs or services, staff must seek guidance from the Vice President of Student Affairs office before collecting the information.
- PCC public safety officers may not participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
- ICE has the authority to seek PCC employment records. ICE may issue a “Notice of Inspection,” which compels the production of I-9 forms and other employment records. A Notice of Inspection should immediately be sent to the Human Resources Department for response.