President Salovey supports BRIDGE Act, policies protecting non-U.S. students

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(Photo by Michael Marsland)

Yale will support passage of the BRIDGE Act, bi-partisan legislation introduced last week to provide “provisional protected status” to undocumented students who were brought to the United States as children. The sponsors of the legislation are expected to offer it again when the 115th Congress convenes in January.

“I strongly support this bi-partisan effort to ensure that students at colleges and universities across the country, including here at Yale, will continue to be able to contribute their extraordinary talents and energies to our communities and to our nation,” said Yale President Peter Salovey.

“Many of these students are the product of our excellent primary and secondary schools,” Salovey said. “I urge Congress and the president-elect to enact this legislation and enable these students to complete their degrees, so that they can go on to be successful and valued contributors to the country they have always called their own. To do otherwise would deny this nation the talent we very much need.”

Salovey said he hopes that in the longer term Congress will revisit comprehensive immigration reform to repair what he and many lawmakers called “a broken system.”

“Our immigration laws currently do far too little to encourage the world’s best and brightest to come to and remain in the U.S. and contribute to our economic growth and security. Those reforms should include a process for undocumented students who have completed their education and are of good character to earn permanent legal status,” he said.

Since the November U.S. presidential election, Salovey and Yale’s federal relations staff have been meeting with policymakers in an effort to ensure that federal laws continue to protect the safety and well-being of those on campus, including international and undocumented students. In a November 18 op-ed in the Yale Daily News, the President announced a range of ways in which Yale will continue to provide financial and other support to students regardless of citizenship status. 

The university has also reached out to those students most likely to be affected by changes in immigration laws, connecting them with legal and other resources and information. The Office of International Students & Scholars features many of these resources on a new website designed to help students understand and navigate potential immigration law changes.

Salovey said Yale will not declare itself to be a “sanctuary campus,” because this term has no legal status, and its meaning and use are therefore confusing. Such a declaration would have no material effect on the policies currently in place at Yale. In his November op-ed, Salovey announced that the Yale Police Department would formalize its alignment with New Haven Police Department (NHPD) practices, which are protective of undocumented people. Those policies state that a community member’s undocumented status will have no effect on how the NHPD interacts with that person. As a result, police officers do not inquire about a person’s status unless investigating criminal activity and do not inquire about the immigration status of crime victims, witnesses, or others who seek police help. Moreover, the NHPD does not enforce the civil provisions of U.S. immigration law (which are the responsibility of federal immigration officials), and only shares confidential information when required by a subpoena or otherwise by law.

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