New Mexico State University won’t declare itself a sanctuary for immigrants without legal status or ban federal law enforcement officials from campus, Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said Friday.
A petition circulating on campus calls for NMSU to take several steps to ensure that all students, including immigrants, are welcome and safe. The petition is similar to others on campuses across the nation and comes in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
Specifically, the petition calls on NMSU to protect immigrants without legal status and those who are currently granted legal status under outgoing President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, which Trump has said he will rescind. Trump has also threatened to cut federal funding for cities that shelter immigrants without legal status as part of his pledge to deport millions.
With many fearing the end of DACA and mass deportations, the petition asks NMSU to:
- Continue to protect the identities of immigrants without legal status who are part of the NMSU community.
- Adopt a resolution “that actively bans U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other immigration enforcement officials from this campus and all land owned or controlled by the university.”
- Refuse to hand over student information to federal immigration officials without consent from the student.
- Continue allowing students who have DACA to pay in-state resident tuition.
- Urge the federal government to protect students who have DACA and grant them a path to permanent legal status.
“Here at NMSU, without the provisions afforded by DACA, undocumented students who have excelled in and outside of the classroom will be denied the opportunity to continue their studies and complete their degrees,” the petition states.
Carruthers, in a Friday memo to employees and students, wrote that NMSU aims to be diverse and inclusive and has several policies in place that aid that goal. NMSU doesn’t require proof of citizenship for admission or discriminate on the basis of immigration status. The university doesn’t disclose student information “except upon consent of the student or as required by law,” Carruthers wrote.
In accordance with state law, he wrote, NMSU offers in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid to “qualifying undocumented students.” And NMSU recently started offering a discounted tuition rate to students from Mexico.
But NMSU won’t jump into the debate over immigration policy, Carruthers wrote.
“While each member of the NMSU community is free to advocate their individual views, our public institution is a governmental entity that respects the diversity of opinion and will not declare itself a sanctuary or otherwise take a position on this or the many other important and difficult issues facing our country that do not directly involve NMSU operations,” he wrote.
Similarly, he wrote, NMSU won’t ban federal law enforcement agents from campus.
“Doing so would jeopardize our federal funding, as well as our ability to issue student visa to our international students and visiting scholars,” he wrote.
“Instead,” Carruthers wrote, “we will continue to demonstrate that NMSU is a ‘caring community’ by providing a forum for open dialogue and a welcoming climate for all of our students, faculty, staff and their families.”
At least a handful of colleges and universities across the nation, including Santa Fe Community College in Northern New Mexico, have declared themselves sanctuaries. Some cities, including Santa Fe, have pledged to shelter immigrants who might be deported even if they lose federal funds.
Meanwhile, in Texas, where movements exist at several colleges and universities to create sanctuaries, Gov. Greg Abott threatened Thursday in a tweet to “cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status.”