FAQs

The following is a series of responses to questions related to DACA students at William & Mary, resources and support for the international community as well as university and William & Mary Police protocol on immigration matters:

How does W&M support students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status?

The welfare of our students, faculty, and staff is William & Mary’s priority. W&M President Taylor Reveley has publicly expressed his support for students with DACA status:

"DACA students are enrolled at William & Mary under guidelines approved by Virginia’s Attorney General. They are important members of the William & Mary community, belong here, and should be allowed to finish their W&M educations.  It is important that they know we support them." 

Applicants who have DACA status may be admitted to W&M for undergraduate or graduate study through standard admissions processes and under Virginia law. Those who meet domicile requirements may be granted in-state tuition rates, which is consistent with guidance from the Virginia Attorney General's Office.

Students at W&M are eligible for all campus services, regardless of their immigration status. These include academic support through the Dean of Students and Office of Academic Advising and confidential counseling through the W&M Counseling Center. The Reves Center for International Studies provides special support for international students, including students with DACA status. 

With regard to the release of any information about students, W&M is highly protective of students’ rights. Not only is the safeguarding for information required by state and federal law, most notably the Federal Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA), we also believe it is in the best interests of our students, their families and the institution as a whole. 

Accordingly, we do not provide information on a student’s citizenship or immigration status to any person, organization or government agency, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), except as required by law. This means that such information will not be disclosed in the absence of a state or federal law requiring the university to provide such information; a valid subpoena; or a court-issued warrant for that specific information. This is discussed in greater detail in the third question.

What other steps has the W&M leadership taken to support DACA and international students in general?

The leadership of W&M has taken many steps to support our enrolled international and DACA students.

The Reves Center and other departments at William & Mary have remained in regular communication with DACA and international students. Shortly after the election, the Reves Center created an online resource hub for DACA students. It includes background on the issue, current information on legislation and details about additional resources such as free information sessions and workshops with immigration attorneys and a list of contacts and advocacy groups.

Following the election, President Reveley joined other university presidents in Virginia and across the country in signing a letter of support for DACA students. Soon after the new administration announced the Executive Order on immigration, President Reveley sent a campus-wide email affirming the university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and the international community. On September 5, 2018, President Reveley sent a second campus-wide email reaffirming William & Mary's unwavering support for our DACA students.

In February 2017, President Reveley also joined other presidents in signing a letter from the American Council on Education that expressed support for international students and concern for the administration’s Executive Order on immigration. Also in February, as part of a pending lawsuit involving the Commonwealth of Virginia, President Reveley submitted an affidavit on the impact the Executive Order has had on public universities in Virginia. President Reveley submitted the affidavit as chair of the state’s Council of Presidents and at the request of Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. Due to the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction on the Executive Order. President Reveley’s affidavit was cited in the court’s Memorandum Opinion granting the preliminary injunction. We will continue to monitor the litigation and assess its impact on DACA and international students.

To what extent do laws like FERPA restrict W&M’s ability to divulge information on DACA students?

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the disclosure of education records of all students to outside parties, including federal agents, without permission from the student, unless there is a valid judicial warrant, subpoena, court order or other legal requirement to do so. All William & Mary employees are required by law to abide by FERPA.

Education records, under FERPA, are documents, files, and other materials that contain information directly related to a student and are maintained by the university. Information protected under FERPA includes a student’s class schedules, information on family members, information on citizenship or immigration status, and other such information.

The protections under FERPA apply to all students who are or have been in attendance at W&M, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. This includes students with DACA status.

FERPA does permit the disclosure of information deemed by the university to be "Directory Information" without written consent (§99.31(a)(11)). At William & Mary, directory information does not include citizenship or immigration status. Directory information does include the following: 

• Student name
• Current classification
• Address (permanent, local, and email)
• Previous schools attended and degrees awarded
• Telephone numbers
• Dates of attendance
• Current enrollment status
• Degree(s) earned and dates awarded
• Major(s), Minor
• Scholarships, awards, honors and special recognition
• Height, weight, and birth date of members of athletic teams
• Photograph

However, students may prohibit the release of directory information by completing the Request for Confidentiality Form (pdf). This request will remain on file indefinitely until written notice is submitted by the student to remove the confidentiality request.

*Note: For students in F-1 or J-1 non-immigrant status (i.e. on “student visas”), the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) requires that certain information be provided to the Department of Homeland Security. Students agree to this disclosure of information when they sign their I-20 or DS-2019 Form (visa eligibility certificates). This exemption to FERPA only allows the disclosure of certain information for students in F-1 and J-1 status to the Department of Homeland Security. It does not apply to students in any other status, including DACA status. Their information is protected by FERPA in the same manner as a student who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.

What is the W&M Police Department (WMPD)’s protocol concerning questioning and apprehending individuals based on immigration status?

As a matter of protocol, W&M Police do not inquire about a person’s immigration status. This includes any person who interacts with them as a victim, witness, concerned citizen, motor vehicle driver, or in any other related role regarding police services or assistance. Local law enforcement does not have an obligation to perform mandatory immigration enforcement duties. Immigration is a federal law enforcement responsibility. W&M Police do not detain any individual solely on the belief that they are not legally present in the United States, or that they committed a civil immigration violation. W&M Police do not contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with suspicions or allegations that an individual may not be legally present in the United States.

We subscribe to the position of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators that our “mission is to serve the campus community and protect our students, staff, and faculty of every heritage, ethnicity, religion, and country while they are on our campus.

If Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) appears on campus and wants to conduct investigations, detentions or arrests based on immigration status what type of access are they allowed to locate students?

If ICE notifies W&M of an investigation and requests assistance, William & Mary Police do not provide protected student information about residence hall assignments, class schedules or other individualized information. Nor does the William & Mary Police Department participate in the investigation.

Allowed General Public Access: ICE may be on campus to independently conduct their business in areas normally open to the public. This applies to most classroom buildings and administrative buildings during normal business hours. During hours open to the public, ICE can access any area of the building, offices, hallways, or classrooms that members of the public could otherwise walk into unimpeded.

No Access without a Warrant: If a building is strictly controlled by an access system for all or part of the day, ICE cannot gain entry to the building during the restricted access hours, unless they have a warrant to do so. So for those times when only persons pre-authorized to use an electronic card key or manual key are allowed to enter a building, ICE cannot enter without the proper warrant.

For law enforcement purposes, a residential hall room is considered the same as any other personal residence off-campus. These spaces are also restricted access areas and would not be open to ICE officials without a valid criminal warrant or voluntary consent from a person they were meeting at that location.

Access with a criminal warrant: If ICE officials possess an arrest warrant, a magistrate or judge has authorized the arrest and detention of an individual based on probable cause to believe the person has committed a criminal offense. This is a court order valid to all police agencies. In this case, as with any case of a criminal warrant, the William & Mary Police would be required to assist in effectuating an arrest, as specified in the order. WMPD would be required to assist in locating the student, regardless of location.

There is one other way in which ICE may ask for local police assistance. If ICE officials are notified through a fingerprint identification process that a subject of concern has been taken into police custody for a crime, ICE may present an Immigration Detainer to the local police agency. The Detainer serves as a request for the local law enforcement agency to voluntarily keep the subject in custody for 48 hours so an ICE agent can then take custody of the subject based on their immigration enforcement issue. This Immigration Detainer is not a court order for the local police agency to produce that person. This process is voluntary and there are court cases that have challenged it. Generally, WMPD will not attempt to hold a subject any longer than is appropriate given the initial crime causing the local arrest. This does not preclude ICE from obtaining a warrant and requesting the court to hold the person for pick-up.

If ICE locates a student because the student is to be questioned, detained, or arrested, can other students that may be present in the room be charged with anything?

Generally speaking, unless the other students present in the room are violating the law, the answer is no. However, if ICE suspects that other students present have immigration issues that fall within their enforcement purview, agents may ask questions of them.

What if I have other questions about the role of the William & Mary Police in providing information or support to students on related immigration issues?

The William & Mary Police can be reached 24/7 at 757-221-4596. Any on-duty Sergeant or Lieutenant can assist with immediate questions. Given the significant student interest in this topic, W&M Police has also designated Sergeant Ericka Silva-Carl as an on-going resource for students with immigration-related concerns.

The Police cannot provide any legal advice, but can discuss protocol or safety issues. W&M Police want to assure students that their safety and security is the number one priority of the Department.

Can a student refuse to allow an ICE agent to enter a residence hall or residence hall room?

A student’s rights with regard to being served a warrant or being questioned or approached by federal agents, including ICE agents, are the same regardless of whether they live in William & Mary housing or off-campus. The Office of Residence Life is not required to provide federal agents, including ICE agents, access to residence halls unless they have a valid criminal warrant that has been issued by the court.

If a federal law-enforcement agent comes onto campus and wishes to speak with a staff member or faculty member about a student or has a warrant or subpoena, he or she should be directed to W&M Police.

Has W&M declared itself a “Sanctuary Campus”?

Like nearly all public institutions in the country – including all state universities in Virginia – William & Mary has not declared itself a “Sanctuary Campus.” As a state institution, if there are changes to federal policy regarding DACA, the university will look to Virginia’s Attorney General for guidance. In the meantime, W&M will continue provide our DACA students with as much support as is possible. As stated already in this document, W&M Police are not an immigration enforcement authority, nor does the university release immigration status of students unless required to by law, such as a subpoena or warrant.