Immigration agents need warrant or subpoena to get student info, University of Cincinnati says

Posted at 11:24 AM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 18:46:26-05

CINCINNATI -- If immigration agents want personal information about University of Cincinnati students, the school says they'd better get a court order.

M.B. Reilly, the university's director of public relations, said UC would handle requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement "the same as any request from law enforcement."

The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires law enforcement officials to have a subpoena or warrant to get students' information, Reilly said.

"In other words, there is nothing in the law that requires a university to provide student information to ICE any differently than we would respond to any other law enforcement agency," she told WCPO in a statement Tuesday.

About 100 international students and faculty were unable to travel freely between the United States and their home countries because of President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries identified as high terror risks, according to the group Cincinnati Socialist Students.

Dozens of UC students turned out Wednesday for the group's rally in support of the university being designated a "sanctuary campus."


Even before Trump's order, the group had sought "sanctuary campus" designation, delivering a petition to UC officials in December seeking various protections for immigrants.

"We just want the rights of immigrants on this campus to be protected," Rachel Anne Bolus, a student organizer with Cincinnati Socialist Students, said. "We do not want students to fear being deported and that their status should not be revealed."

The group's announcement of the rally came the day after the City Council passed a symbolic resolution declaring Cincinnati a "sanctuary city" and after more than 70 demonstrators were arrested at a similar rally at Ohio University.

University officials said they can't deem themselves a "sanctuary campus" without knowing its legal definition, but pointed to their policy of requiring a court order for information on students, as well as legal and social resources already in place. 

"We'd like to sit down with them and hear more specifically about what they'd want," UC spokesperson Greg Vehr said. "We know that times people like to rally and they like to protest -- that's certainly within their rights -- we'd like to come to something that meets their needs, but at the same time is legal and works for the university."

LIST: 9 things to know about 'sanctuary city' fight

Provost Peter Landgren responded that UC was monitoring the situation daily and was "as committed as ever at this time in our university’s and nation's history to provide a safe haven for intellectual freedom and the voices of many."

"Our university has always placed a high priority on providing safeguards for those freedoms as well as a safe and welcoming environment for our students, regardless of their status as U.S. citizens, immigrants, international students, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students," Landgren said in a statement. "And our university will continue to do so."