Effort growing to make Texas A&M a sanctuary for undocumented students

Published: Nov. 15, 2016 at 5:57 PM CST
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Changes to the nation's immigration policies are likely after the most recent elections.

Some faculty, staff and students at universities, including Texas A&M, are pushing for more provisions to protect undocumented immigrants.

There's now a growing effort to designate the A&M campus a sanctuary.

"America without immigrants is not America. We need the undocumented community and we need a path to citizenship and we need sanctuary cities right now," said Jose Monsivais, who is a Texas A&M Student and the vice president of the Council for Minority Student Affairs.

An online effort is gaining signatures asking to make A&M a sanctuary campus. Among the requests to school leaders: asking them to not comply with deportations or raids, and refusing to release the immigration statuses of students and staff.

"It is super concerning. Students are worried about their families. They are worried about their parents, and they're worried about themselves," said Monsivais.

Sonia Hernandez and Felipe Hinojosa are associate professors of history at the university and helped start the effort.

“I really was very impressed with this idea of the Aggie family and the Aggie Spirit, and I think if we’re going to treat all students the same way and make them feel like they are part of the Aggie family, this is the necessary step that we needed to take. And it’s really about ensuring a a safe campus, helping our students feel safe. An academic space should not be a space where there’s fear and that is really sort of at the heart of this petition," said Hernandez.

“Over 500,000 people were repatriated in the 1930s. Among those 500,000, 60 percent were U.S. citizens, and so this fear of mass deportation or putting these policies in place, part of it is protecting the students that we have. Another part of it is that if you are a Latino in this country, if you are Mexican-American, there is a possibility that that legislation could impact your life even if you are a U.S. citizen. We’ve seen it historically, and there’s no reason to believe that that wouldn’t be the case today," said Hinojosa.

Petitions for more protections have been happening not only at Texas A&M, but other universities including Yale, Brown and Stanford. Work is also happening to make the City of Austin a sanctuary city.

Jonathan Trudelle is a construction science student and sees the benefits of an immigrant workforce. While he doesn't want a wall, he also doesn't support a sanctuary.

"I think it adds to the problem. We don't have an immigration plan at all, really," he said.

We also heard from college Republican leadership on campus. They tell us they are supportive of the GOP's stance on immigration, and believe sanctuary cities promote illegal immigration and violate the law.

So far, close to 1,000 people have signed the petition. Organizers plan to present it to Texas A&M President Michael K. Young and Provost Karan Watson later this month.

We've called university administration for information regarding the number of undocumented students on campus, but are still waiting for a reply.