A group of faculty, students and staff at New Mexico State University plans to continue pushing to make the school a sanctuary campus.
Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said last week that NMSU won’t declare itself a sanctuary for immigrants without legal status or ban federal law enforcement officials from campus.
Carruthers was responding to a petition being circulated by a group called Standing with Our Students (SOS) that asks NMSU to become a sanctuary campus.
In a Friday memo to employees and students, Carruthers 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 without consent or unless required by law. NMSU offers in-state tuition and state-funded financial aid to “qualifying undocumented students” and discounted tuition to students from Mexico.
Associate English professor Elizabeth Schirmer said in a news release that SOS appreciates Carruthers’ “affirmation of NMSU’s commitment to diversity.” But the university needs to do more, she said.
In addition to a sanctuary campus declaration, the petition asks NMSU to ban federal immigration officials from campus. It also asks the university to urge the federal government to protect immigrant students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and grant them a path to permanent legal status.
“We can see that many of our students are frightened,” Schirmer said. “DACA students report being advised by lawyers not to open their doors to strangers, and we have begun to hear stories of harassment.”
The petition, which is similar to others on campuses across the nation, comes in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to rescind DACA and other rhetoric. Trump has also threatened to cut federal funding for cities that shelter immigrants without legal status as part of his pledge to deport millions.
NMSU student Antonio Esparza, in the news release from SOS, said he fears “allowing federal immigration officers on our campus will cause discrimination and profiling of our students based on their appearance.”
Associate sociology professor Julie Rice said declaring the campus a sanctuary means people “will not be harassed or bothered by law enforcement for doing a peaceable activity that contributes greatly to the country” — getting an education.
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.