A part-time math instructor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas raised a stir when he promised to alert immigration agents if he learns one of his students is undocumented, but now the professor said the post was made in jest.
George Buch’s initial warning this week came in the form of a Facebook posting, reports Nevada Public Radio.
"And then I would have to turn you into ICE," Buch’s comments read. "No safe spaces in my class."
The report said that Buch posted his statement after dozens of colleges and universities across the country, including UNLV, declared themselves sanctuaries for students of illegal immigration status.
Buch did not immediately respond to questions from the news station and the school said it would look into the remarks.
But after an uproar erupted on campus, he issued a statement to the school's newspaper, saying he was sorry and, "It was intended to be a joke although clearly a poor one. I have never, nor will I ever, create a classroom of hate or intolerance. However, if you feel uncomfortable or threatened by being in this classroom after today you should contact the dean or math department chair, and appropriate accommodations will be made. These students and their success mean everything to me, and I’m sorry that I put them in jeopardy."
President-elect Donald Trump made stopping illegal immigration, as well as the immediate deportation of millions, a cornerstone of his campaign, and now activists, students and even powerful funding organizations are arguing that institutions of learning should not co-operate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcemnt or other law enforcement agencies, instead providing "sanctuary" for those in the country illegally.
In Nevada, an education philanthropist is urging Las Vegas-area schools and college campuses to claim themselves sanctuaries for undocumented students, staff and family members who might face deportation.
Beverly Rogers, the chairwoman of The Rogers Foundation, said Wednesday that Trump's pledges to deport immigrants would ruin students' futures and violate their basic right not to live in fear.
Trump promised during his campaign to create a "deportation force" and to end temporary protective status, granted by President Barack Obama, for students in the U.S. illegally.
The Associated Press contributed to this report