The New School has removed immigration status from its internal portal, Starfish, and offered to cover fees for undocumented students applying for federal protections under DACA, administrators said.

Previously, many students were displeased to find that one’s immigration status was displayed on The New School’s online portal. Students thought the information should have remained confidential and deemed it inappropriate to be displayed on Starfish.

It wasn’t immediately clear to what extent anyone outside of the university would have easy access to immigration information via Starfish.

As of Sept. 22, immigration status was removed from student accounts on Starfish, Will Milberg, dean of the New School for Social Research, confirmed at the university’s town hall on Sept. 25.

“Citizenship status has been purged from Starfish,” Milberg said. “Secondly, the university has really worked to develop a protocol for training in the case of immigration customs enforcement inquiries about students, faculty and staff. They have worked very closely with us and the human resources department has really committed to implementing and training people and that’s happening. It’s an ongoing process.”

The president of The New School, David Van Zandt, has said he supports Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program President Trump hopes to repeal.

DACA was started by the Obama administration in June 2012. It allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors the opportunity to attend college and the eligibility for a work permit with two-years protection from deportation.

President Trump’s administration announced the end of the DACA program on Sept. 5, but left a six-month window for Congress to try to come up with a replacement for the program.

Van Zandt has repeatedly and loudly proclaimed his opposition to the president’s immigration policies, and did so again wrote in an email to The New School in early September.

The New School strongly supports diversity and inclusion, and we disagree with the administration’s decision to end the DACA program,” he said. “We reinforce our pledge, supported by our Board of Trustees, that The New School will uphold its right not to disclose any person’s citizenship or immigration status, nor will we cooperate with immigration authorities on related issues unless forced to by a court order or warrant,” he added.

In the meantime, DACA recipients who are already enrolled and whose permits expire on or before March 5, 2018, were still allowed to apply for two-year renewal as long as they did so by the Oct. 5, 2017 deadline.  

School administrators said they’d cover the fee for the renewal application, according to an email from Jennifer Francone, the assistant vice president for Student Equity and Access.

Van Zandt and the board of trustees hope to protect the integrity of the diversity of the student body which is what makes TNS a welcoming international community, they said.

Our work to shape the future never stops,” Van Zandt said.


Illustration by Ashlie Juarbe

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