ATLANTA - Emory University's president said this week that the school is studying a proposal to become a so-called sanctuary campus.
It is a term that has popped up after the election of Donald Trump. As a sanctuary campus, Emory would not willingly participate in the deportation of its students who are in the country illegally. Currently, they're protected by a presidential order that Mr. Trump has threatened to rescind.
Students at Emory sent a petition to the Emory University President Claire E. Sterk asking, among other things, that the campus become a sanctuary which would not participate in the deportation of undocumented students.
In that petition, the students state, "The election of Donald Trump presents a clear challenge to Emory's core commitments to inclusiveness, particularly for undocumented minimums of our community."
"I would encourage our university to provide sanctuary to such students," Emory graduate student Erin Roark said.
Rourk signed the petition.
"My husband is Muslim, and I'm very concerned about all of the Islamic-phobic rhetoric we heard around the election," said Rourk.
In a letter to the student, the school president wrote, "…the need for a sanctuary campus and ways to protect all members of the Emory community is being reviewed by the university leadership."
"We had students coming in in tears worried that their families were going to be deported," said Rebecca Duncan.
Duncan is an elementary school teacher from the San Francisco area eating lunch across from the Emory campus and talked about her own experiences in the classroom.
"So, it's utterly ridiculous to think that we could get rid of them or that there is any reason why they should leave this country. And anybody who thinks that really needs to get their head out of the sand," said Duncan.
"Let me point out that it is a violation of existing long-time federal law to harbor or shelter or assist or to encourage an illegal alien to remain in these United States," said D.A. King, an immigration enforcement activist with the Dustin Inman Society.
Becoming a sanctuary campus could be extremely controversial. In a state, in fact, a region that overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump in the election. He campaigned on ending the presidential protection for undocumented students.
"We should all note that in Mexico this would never happen. Illegal aliens are not allowed to attend school in Mexico," said King.
No decision has been made, and Emory said that in the meantime, they will continue to welcome and support undocumented students through the current government program.