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Petition to Declare the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley a Sanctuary University

This petition had 1,683 supporters


DATE: November 17, 2016

TO: President Guy Bailey

FROM: UTRGV’s: Minority Affairs Council, LUCHA (La Unión Chicanx Hijxs de Aztlán), Center for Mexican American Studies, Mexican American Studies Program, Center for Bilingual Studies, Muslim Students’ Association, WAKE-UP (Women Artistically Kollecting Experiencias-Unidas Prosperando), Voto Latino, and BESO (Bilingual Education Student Organization)

RE: Petition to Declare the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) a Sanctuary University

Thank you for sending an email to “Dreamer students” yesterday stating “Rest assured, that UTRGV will continue to support our Dreamer students” and “As we go forward, please know that you have our full support and will not face any potential issues alone.”

As you know, UTRGV serves approximately 951 Senate Bill 1528 students & House Bill 1403 students. And as you know, this is more than any university in the state of Texas. Given the recent U.S. presidential election, our location on the U.S.-Mexico border, the number of students and their families who fall directly in the crosshairs of the recent president-elect’s proposed agendas, we the students and faculty affiliated with the UTRGV Center for Mexican American Studies cannot remain idle and silent during these unpredictable times. We support our peers and students, especially our most disenfranchised, and petition that our University administration stand in solidarity with the calls on at least 130 other universities nationwide and declare UTRGV a sanctuary campus.

Students, families, and community members are fearful, and we need University leadership and locally elected officials to emerge in public support of all of our students. We are asking for assurance that campus police will not question anyone’s religious affiliation or immigration status, nor allow ICE to question anyone’s immigration status. We ask the University to make a public commitment to not release any records regarding the immigration status of students and their family members to ICE.

Additionally, we ask the University to publicly advocate for resident tuition designation for Senate Bill students and at the forthcoming state legislative sessions. We also ask that UTRGV create a staff position with the sole purpose of assisting current Senate Bill students and future students. Furthermore, we ask the University to work with the larger University of Texas System in a consolidated effort to create a Center (and requisite staff positions) to address any issues that relate to current and future Senate Bill students who need support in enrollment, retention, and success (including and not limited to undocumented, DACA recipients, and non-citizens).

In establishing a sanctuary campus, the University will be a safer space for students. Moreover, we petition the university to help prevent the hateful post-election comments and microaggressions directed at our communities and that are being documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center. We need UTRGV to send a clear message that we will not tolerate xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, abelist, Islamophobic, and

racist comments and actions, and that we as a university will not tolerate religious persecution or the trivialization of sexual assault.

Again, we support all of our peers and students, especially our most vulnerable and disenfranchised. Contacting Senate Bill students through email yesterday is a good first step. More is needed, however. Declaring UTRGV a sanctuary university will help demonstrate your full support of students and help establish a more peaceful learning environment in these volatile times.



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