Petition to University of Delaware, President Dennis Assanis
No Blue Hen Is Illegal
In light of recent executive orders that have put millions of undocumented immigrants at risk, and in light of the recent spike in hate speech and crimes on college campuses targeting immigrants, it is clearly imperative that the University of Delaware meaningfully address the specific challenges faced by, undocumented/DACA students and other vulnerable immigrant students. Thus, we students, faculty, staff, retirees, community members, and alumni urge you to review this petition and provide a public written response that specifically addresses each of the ten requests enumerated below. Here are our ten requests: 1. Hire an Undocumented Student Coordinator to advocate for, advise, represent, and protect undocumented/DACA students. The University of Maryland has recently announced the establishment of such a position, and the University of Delaware would do well to follow UM’s example so that someone with expertise can, on an ongoing basis, work within the University of Delaware administration to help provide security and equal educational opportunities for undocumented/DACA students. Undocumented/DACA students at UD often don’t know who to turn to, and an Undocumented Student Coordinator would solve that problem. 2. Establish and encourage local police policies that will ensure that: (a) all immigrant members of the community receive the same level of police protection that others receive, and (b) there exists a formal procedure for working with Undocumented/DACA students when they have been the victims of a crime and are filing a U Nonimmigrant Visa. In order for police to be effective, they need to have the cooperation of members of the community — regardless of immigration status. Where people are fearful of deportation, they are less likely to report crimes and cooperate with police. The New Castle County Police Department works closely with Victim Services to facilitate the U-Visa application process between law enforcement officials and the legal advocates of Undocumented victims of crime, which has created a sense of support within the undocumented communities interacting with law enforcement. Thus, for the sake of the safety of its undocumented/DACA students, the University should formally establish and announce the following policy (or a similar one) for the University of Delaware campus police, and consult with Newark city officials to encourage the establishment of the same policy for the Newark Police Department: All community members are encouraged to seek and obtain police assistance and protection, regardless of their specific immigration and/or documentation status. The enforcement of the nation’s civil immigration laws are the primary responsibility of the federal government and the University of Delaware Campus Police/Newark Police Department does not undertake immigration-related investigations and does not inquire into the specific immigration status of any person encountered during police operations.add citation 3. Provide sensitivity/diversity training to faculty and staff pertaining to undocumented/DACA students. Currently, diversity training at the University of Delaware does not specifically address the unique circumstances of undocumented/DACA students. Often, staff and faculty do not even know what being a DACA student means, which hinders the extent to which students can communicate with their professors about their needs in class. 4. Ensure that undocumented/DACA students have the same opportunities for admission and financial aid that other students have and that their access to academic programs within the University is not unreasonably limited by their citizenship status. The University should formally establish admission and financial aid policies that do not discriminate against undocumented/DACA students, and commit to ensuring that any financial awards given to such students are not withdrawn (e.g. by continuing to provide in-state resident tuition to DACA students who have qualified previously even if their DACA status is cancelled). The University should seek to provide greater equality for undocumented/DACA students by effectively communicating and establishing procedures to help them apply for, and understand the process of applying for, financial aid. This is necessary due to the difficulties and unique barriers undocumented/DACA students currently face when they seek financial aid. (For example, the policy requiring students to show proof of rejection is flawed and should be eliminated.) Certain academic programs and majors require the completion of internships or research, however, many of these programs ask for citizenship in order to apply. A thorough review of such policies is needed in order to determine what citizenship requirements are fundamental and which are unfounded and able to be amended. 5. Ensure an adequate process exists for directing undocumented/DACA students to on campus emergency housing, and allowing them to remain within campus boundaries, during situations of heightened threats of immigration enforcement. This includes providing undocumented/DACA students with the opportunity to use interim housing options in case of a heightened threat or potentially hostile situation. 6. Establish transparent campus-wide policies that define how the University would respond should U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) request information or assistance from the University, or should ICE officers appear at the University. 7. Provide culturally competent psychological counseling services for undocumented/DACA students and communicate the availability of such services to students. Fund a cluster diversity hire of counselors that can meet the needs of undocumented students, immigrant students, students of color, and LGBTQ identified students. 8. Reaffirm the University’s commitment to create a campus atmosphere of respect by denouncing hate speech, violence, or threats of violence directed at immigrant, ethnic minority, and LGBTQ students, and by informing the campus of existing resources for reporting and responding to identity-based hate incidents. 9. Give undocumented/DACA students the ability to opt out of attending the International Student Orientation and the choice to attend the orientation for domestic students instead. 10. Establish transparent policies that ensure that the University would provide help, such as legal services or emergency funds, should an immigrant student face detention or deportation proceedings. ************** In alignment with University of Delaware’s Statement of Responsibility to “respect every human being,” we the undersigned students, faculty, staff and alumni of the University of Delaware call upon you, President Assanis, and the University of Delaware, to fulfill these ten requests. We do so as an expression of our commitment to ensuring the safety, health and well-being of undocumented/DACA students and their families. By moving to serve the immediate and long-term needs of our undocumented and DACA community members, we can foster a welcoming community for all of its members, regardless of religion, race, gender, sexuality, ability, or immigration status, and in accordance with the University of Delaware’s mission.