Immigration and Customs Information for
Students, Faculty, and Staff with Disabilities
In early 2017, President Trump issued Executive Orders affecting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Many students, faculty, and staff in higher education are affected by these orders, so the NCCSD gathered this nonpartisan information about immigration and disability rights. We consulted attorneys in developing this page and are updating it regularly, but you should discuss specifics of any situation with the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), or your state chapter of the ACLU. If you are a student, international student offices and disability services offices on your campus may be able to assist. If you are an employee, check with Human Resources. Know that the moment you are on U.S. soil, the ADA and Section 504 apply - you have the right to disability accommodations. If you are currently having a mental or emotional crisis, see the NCCSD list of crisis resources for help.
Disability rights on campus, in U.S. customs, or when detained by immigration:
- If you are a current student, faculty or staff member who has met visa and eligibility requirements, you have the right to disability services and disability accommodations. Colleges can not remove or limit disability services based on citizenship or immigration status.
- Need information in American Sign Language? The Texas Latino Council of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing made a series of videos in ASL
- Some states hope to use campus police in immigration enforcement. Other campuses are becoming "sanctuary campuses," even though some experts are not sure these measures can protect students. Check with campus security or your international student office if you have concerns.
- If you are in customs areas (for travel on foot, or by car, train, or plane) or detention areas (for ICE), you may request disability accommodations to fully access the physical areas, information being presented, or to communicate with officials.* Make your request clear verbally or in writing: "I have [fill in the blank] disability and need [fill in the blank] as a disability accommodation. I am officially requesting that at this time." Examples would be: access to medicine, food, water, or equipment; emergency services for physical or mental health; information in a format you can understand (e.g., large print, someone to read information, written information instead of verbal); looser handcuffs for circulation or signing; access to air conditioning.
- ICE has issued a statement that they will provide disabled or ill people with medical care inside detention facilities, as they did with one woman being treated for a brain tumor, who was removed from a hospital and treated in ICE. For this reason, consider asking your doctors to download all your medical files, prescriptions, and other healthcare information to a disk, USB drive, or phone that can be shared with ICE medical personnel, and carry this with you at all times.
- If you need more information or do not receive accommodations, contact the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the ACLU, or if the issue relates to customs, you may file a complaint with Customs and Border Protection.
- There are reports of Customs officers giving people quizzes about their work and academic fields (e.g., software engineers asked about binary search trees), so do not lie about your work or field of study. Customs may also search your phone, laptop, and social media, so clear out anything you do not want them to see.
- If you are considering fleeing to Canada, know that Canada typically bans immigrants with disabilities (article is from the Washington Post).
Information about the Executive Orders on immigration, customs, and refugees (this will be updated as needed):
- Major elements of the first Executive Order, explained by the Los Angeles Times, with text of the Executive Orders, implementation guidelines, and fact sheets, published by the Dept. of Homeland Security
- The second immigration order has been blocked by the courts (for now); read the text of the second order online and see information about an amicus brief filed by a group of colleges, explaining how the bans are affecting them
- Students attending college under DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) are not supposed to be targeted and should be allowed to remain in the U.S. under current ICE guidelines; some believe ICE may have authority to deport "DREAMERS" and they should "stay off the radar" of ICE (especially if they have a criminal record), so consult with an immigration lawyer or other organizations on this web page if you are going to school under DACA but have any criminal record (including driving without a license or other non-violent offenses).
- Expedited processing of H-1B visas has been temporarily suspended as of April 3; this program helps bring highly skilled people to U.S. companies. The standard processing for H-1B visas is still available, but requires 3-6 months to process. Immigration officials are also stepping up unannounced visits for H-1B visa holders.
What to do if your family is affected:
- How to prepare and what to do if you or your family is affected by ICE raids (news from CNN.com includes a video that is closed captioned)
- Remember that ICE agents are not police and you do not have to open the door for them, even if the word "POLICE" is written on their jackets
- Whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, here is some advice from attorneys about always carrying documentation, traveling, and what to do if you are stopped
- Scholarships are available for undocumented college students
- If you have adopted internationally, attorneys recommend you check the status of your child
- ACLU information about what to do if ICE is at your house, if you are arrested in protests, if you are stopped by police, or other situations (some information is in Spanish)
- State Department information on studying or working in the U.S.
- There is a new app that can help people requesting asylum.
- If you are a Mexican immigrant, you can contact one of the 50 Mexican consulates and embassies in the U.S., which have all opened centers for the defense of Mexican immigrants. Click here for a list of Mexican consulates, by state.
How to be an ally for campus members affected by these orders:
- Learn first-person stories about immigrants with medical conditions and disabilities - here are a few to get started:
- Ways that faculty and staff can support undocumented students (from Diverse Issues in Higher Education)
- Support your campus in setting up services for undocumented students - you can read more about universities that are setting up offices
- Know your campus policies. Ask your campus newspaper or campus department to print policies about how the campus will work with ICE agents, first-person accounts from campus on the issues, and information about rights or considerations when members of campus are traveling (including information for people with disabilities).
- Six strategies to be an ally, including ideas for people who know Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, or other languages.
- How to fight anti-semitism booklet, with ideas that can be adapted for other religious or ethnic groups
- Ideas for people who want to take political action on the issue of immigration (please note that the NCCSD was unable to find any resources for people who want to take political action support Trump's immigration orders); people on all sides of the issues should also feel free to contact their U.S. and state representatives with political opinions.
* 29 U.S.C. § 794(a); Alexander v. Choate; 469 U.S. 287, 301 (1985); C.F.R. § 15.30(a); and CBP Directive No. 2130-021 ("Roles and Responsibilities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Component Offices and Employees Regarding Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Matters §§ 2, 5.1 (2011)); Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
This page was last updated on April 8, 2017.
This page was last updated on April 8, 2017.