Nervada and Wisconsin (AP) – Across the country, a variety of groups are pressuring universities, colleges and schools across the country to vow to protect one of the newest demographic groups on campus: undocumented students.
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 (ICE) or other law enforcement agencies, instead providing "sanctuary" for those in the country illegally.
Like students in other states, the student council of the Associated Students of Madison at the University of Wisconsin passed a resolution Wednesday calling on Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW System President Ray Cross to declare all system schools sanctuary campuses for students who are living in the country illegally before Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration.
The resolution states that such a declaration would mean campuses wouldn't release information to federal immigration authorities on deportation issues, federal authorities would be barred from visiting campuses to arrest students who entered the country illegally as minors, and campus police would be prohibited from working with federal immigration authorities.
"Undocumented students should not be dismissed or looked over at a university that strives to promote diversity, equality and opportunity for all," the resolution's sponsor, Janelle Perez, said in a news release. "They are currently living in fear for their future and wonder if they can continue their education."
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UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas said in an email to the Associated Press that Blank lacks the authority to declare the campus a sanctuary and she must run the school within the limits of federal and state law.
He added, however, that campus police don't routinely gather information about citizenship or immigration status from people, and there aren't any plans to change that. He also pointed out that Blank and more than 400 other higher education officials have signed a statement calling to continue President Barack Obama's policy of deferring deportation action against immigrants who entered the country illegally as minors.
UW System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said in an email that Cross was traveling Thursday and Friday but included a statement saying immigration policy is important to higher education and system leaders will be watching federal actions closely.
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.
The Rogers Foundation board chairwoman Beverly Rogers 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 for students in the U.S. illegally.
Rogers says she sent a letters to the Clark County School District, UNLV, College of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College.
The nonprofit Rogers Foundation was founded in 2013 by Rogers and her husband, wealthy television station mogul and Nevada state university chancellor Jim Rogers. He died in June 2014.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.