Sanctuary or bust

Trump’s hateful rhetoric calls for district to pass resolution

Sanctuary+or+bust

Marci Suela / The Advocate

By The Advocate, Editorial Board

Demagogues throughout history have manipulated insecurities about the economy to pass laws that violate the human rights of minority groups.

President-elect Donald Trump cast blame on immigrant and Muslim communities for the shrinking middle class through the loss of low skilled wage jobs to nations abroad. Trump exploiting voters’ willingness to blame underrepresented groups in the United States proves that de facto racism thrives. His divisive campaign was built on misunderstanding and frustration about issues affecting our economy.

Our call to protect groups targeted by Trump’s rhetoric is rooted in understanding.

Since the Republican Party now controls all three federal branches, a petition for the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board to pass a resolution that would establish its three campuses and extension campuses as Sanctuary Colleges has been started.

A Sanctuary College District resolution would require colleges to withhold students’ personal information from the federal government and work to keep current financial aid policies for undocumented students in place.

Trump’s administration promises to monitor Muslim communities, deport millions of undocumented people and do nothing to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ or other underrepresented communities.

As of press time Tuesday, the Sanctuary College District petition circulating on Facebook has 537 signatures from students, faculty and community members at Contra Costa, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos colleges.

It is the responsibility of diverse communities like ours to ensure that the intrusive laws Trump proposes do not seep into our communities — no matter the cost.

The district must approve the resolution to protect these vulnerable communities, or risk jeopardizing the rich diversity it touts when it needs state or federal funding.

District Communications and Community Relations Director Tim Leong said the petitioning resolution has gained a spot on the agenda as a discussion item for the Governing Board at its next meeting at the District Office in Martinez on Dec. 14.

Board President Vicki Gordon said while the board will not come to a decision at that meeting, it is the start of a necessary discussion between the board and the community it serves.

“There are so many unanswered questions and variables,” Gordon said. “This is a start of the conversation. So we still need to take it slow and (be) careful to make a thoughtful decision, possibly in January.”

So far, Gordon, Ward I Trustee John Marquez and recently appointed Ward IV Trustee Gary Walker-Roberts are in strong support of progressing the discussion.

“Ever since Donald Trump won it seems people are more emboldened and have come out of the shadows to spread bigotry and racism,” Walker-Roberts said. “I want to make sure we can create a safe place for undocumented students and other targeted groups to keep pushing toward their dreams.”

Out of 51,000 students who were enrolled in the district during the 2015-16 academic year, about 30 percent out of them identified as Hispanic, 30 percent as white, 11 percent as Asian, and 11 percent as African-American, according to the California Chancellor’s Office online database (DataMart).

The district, that exists to serve its community, should make each of its three campuses safe places for students, faculty and administrators or risk losing the support of more than half of its community.