Harvard’s Hypocritical Protection of ‘Undocumented’ Students

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Harvard University has vowed that it will protect illegal aliens on campus, including who are enrolled as students, according to the Harvard Gazette. The effort is in anticipation of President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to enforce immigration laws.

Earlier this month, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a letter to the Harvard community, sharing her concern at the likely effect of Trump’s policies on “students, scholars, and staff at Harvard, especially on students who are undocumented.”

She said that the Harvard University Police Department would not cooperate with federal immigration officials without a warrant, and that the university would be making additional legal resources available to illegal aliens affiliated with Harvard.

And Faust added that she would support President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)” — an executive action in 2012 that defied congressional will and made it more difficult for legal immigrants to enter the country.

Faust is entitled to her opinions on public policy. But what she is not entitled to to is to defy the taxpayers, tear up Harvard’s principles, or undermine its Honor Code.

Harvard receives federal funding in various ways, and for various purposes, such as through research grants or financial aid for students. It also benefits from federal tax policies that make donations to Harvard tax-deductible. There is no reason that such funding should be used to benefit people who are illegally in the country at the expense of citizens, legal residents, or international students who obey the law. Conversely, if Harvard really wanted to protest, it could reject the federal dollars.

Needless to say, Harvard will not be turning away the federal government’s largesse.

But there is a deeper problem with accepting “undocumented” students. Harvard is one of the most competitive schools in the world. Nearly 40,000 students apply for fewer than 2,000 undergraduate slots. Every aspect of an applicant’s background — grades, SAT scores, recommendations, financial aid eligibility — must be meticulously documented, or the application is likely to be rejected. Creating a special exemption for illegal aliens actually gives them an unfair advantage in the process.

One could argue that even the “undocumented,” or the “Dreamers,” deserve the opportunity of higher education. What they do not deserve is an elite education at one of the nation’s top universities, taking a slot away from thousands of other applicants.

Finally, life as an “undocumented” resident often means resorting to various forms of deception. Some illegal aliens use false Social Security numbers, for example. If a typical Harvard student were to do that, he or she would be suspended or expelled.

The Harvard Honor Code declares that “falsifying data, or any other instance of academic dishonesty violates the standards of our community.” Yet Harvard not only looks the other way, but now pledges special legal assistance to the “undocumented.”

A more appropriate and constructive response would be for Harvard to end future admissions and employment for those illegally in the country, while working with the new Trump administration on ways to help those who are already illegally present to take appropriate steps to rectify their status, perhaps after a grace period or after completing their education.

There is compassion for the “undocumented” — but what about for the law-abiding who deserve a place at Harvard? Silence.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and a Harvard graduate (A.B. ’99, J.D. ’09). His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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