Keep UH Diverse: Protect Undocu-Coogs

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The University of Houston prides itself in being one of the most diverse college campuses in the United States. On September 5th of this year, the school system’s diversity was threatened. On this date, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the executive decision made to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program started in June of 2012. For the last five years, this program allowed undocumented students across the country to no longer fear their deportation, receive a social security number and apply for jobs, and to get a driver’s license.


With DACA’s imminent ending, and a cloud of uncertainty on whether Senate Bill 4, the controversial racial profiling bill passed during the last Texas Legislative Session allowing police officers to ask immigration status, will be fully implemented, undocumented students now more than ever need support. We know that undocumented students are valuable members of our University of Houston community. We need to protect them by all means from deportation and ensure that resources are available so they may complete their college education at home.


Approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from a US High School each year and it is estimated that only 5-10% of these students pursue a higher education. The Greater Houston Area is home to 80,000 DACA recipients which equals 10 percent of DACA recipients in the United States. As the University of Houston students, staff, faculty, retirees, community members, alumni and administration, we understand that our role is to not only protect our current undocumented student population, but to increase our school system’s diversity by actively recruiting and creating a positive and welcoming environment for undocumented students. Because of this, we ask Chancellor Khator and the University of Houston Board of Regents to enforce UH’s Diversity and Inclusion Statement in “commit[ing] to engage in an ongoing dialogue to thoughtfully respond to the changing realities of our increasingly interconnected world [and] continually striv[ing] to work together to address the challenges of the future in a way that removes barriers to success and promotes a culture of inclusivity, compassion and mutual respect” by reviewing this petition and providing a public written response that specifically addresses each of our requests enumerated below.

 

  1. Financial aid & scholarships including housing support and meal plans for undocumented students.
  2. Free legal services to all undocumented & DACAmented students and their families including an immigration/ discrimination hotline.
  3. Provide culturally competent psychological counseling services for undocumented/DACA students and communicate the availability of such services to students.
  4. Work with legal counsel to clearly lay out under what circumstances cooperation with ICE is required and designate a senior administrator to promptly respond to any staff or faculty members who receive information requests or visits from immigration enforcement officials. 
  5. Mandatory faculty, staff, admin training explaining their situation, unique needs of undocumented students to help them provide additional supports & resources and show sensitivity to youths’ concerns. 
  6. Train all key front-line staff offices(e.g.,admissions,registrar,financial aid, and counseling) to build widespread understanding about the DACA policy and basic immigration information at the national, statewide, and local level so that employees know how to respond to student requests for transcripts and other documentation.
  7. Partner with YEA to hold annual trainings for all personnel about relevant State and local policies.
  8. Train financial aid counselors so they are able to discuss issues that undocumented students encounter and create specific Websites or webpages on financial aid for undocumented students.
  9. Create a task force & yearly survey of the needs of undocumented & DACAmented Students.
  10. Mentorship, research & internship programs geared toward undocumented students through sponsorships or as “independent contractors”.
  11. Create an ally directory (can include program directors, advisors, counselors, professors and even students that are interested in providing support to undocumented students).
  12. Review of all university resource application’s requiring a state issued ID rather than campus ID Ally markers for all staff, faculty, admin to show support of undocumented students (butterfly symbol on door, etc).
  13. Include specific resources, Youth Empowerment Alliance, Urban Experience Program, and Center for Diversity and Inclusion information at all New Student Orientations.
  14. Host an undocumented immigrant awareness day and consider partnering with community and stakeholder groups to amplify the event. 
  15. Develop an undocumented student resource guide or brochure to help students navigate the university and feel welcomed. 
  16. Develop relationships or transfer agreements with secondary schools or colleges that serve large numbers of undocumented students.
  17. Limit the sharing of student information with federal immigration authorities.
  18. Restrict immigration agents’ access to certain “safe zones” on campus.
  19. Prohibit campus security from collaborating with federal immigration authorities for the purposes of enforcement - train campus police to understand their responsibilities/what they can(t) do.


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