New Mexico State University is again rejecting student and faculty calls to declare the campus a “sanctuary” for illegal immigrant student, although it does provide some benefits for students who are in the country illegally.
In 2016, a petition advocating for the protection of illegal immigrant students by NMSU circulated on campus. Demands included banning U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from campus, allowing DACA students to pay in-state tuition, and disallowing student information to be shared with federal immigration officials without the student’s consent.
Then Chancellor Garrey Carruthers rejected these demands in a campus-wide memo obtained by Campus Reform. Carruthers said the university will continue to provide a “forum for open dialogue and a welcoming climate for all of our students, faculty, staff and their families.”
“While each member of the NMSU community is free to advocate their individual views, our public institution is a governmental entity that respects the diversity of opinion and will not declare itself a sanctuary or otherwise take a position on this or the many other important and difficult issues facing our country that do not directly involve NMSU operations,” Carruthers wrote.
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Both the Associated Students of NMSU and the Faculty Senate wrote and passed a formal proposal in fall 2021 requesting NMSU declare itself a “sanctuary campus.”
“While there is no set definition to the term Sanctuary Campus, it is known to refer to
an institution that puts policies in place to protect undocumented students and other persons who lack the protection of US citizenship,” the proposal states.
The Faculty Senate memorial asked NMSU to “self-declare New Mexico State University a Sanctuary Campus,” “increase transparency of NMSU’s relationship with the Department of Customs and Border Protection (including the existing Criminal Justice Department contract),” and “create an ad-hoc committee that will establish policies for NMSU regarding policy language, training programs, safe spaces, and other resources to support Sanctuary status.”
The memorial poined out that NMSU was “built on the land of indigenous peoples and people of Mexican descent who lived in this region before 1800.” Thus, they are “who must be served by this institution.”
Campus Reform asked assistant professor and sponsor of the Faculty Senate memorial Nichole Hamilton why this change is important to her and the NMSU campus.
“Sanctuary campuses do not have a set definition but in self-declaring, we can move towards creating and implementing policy that can ensure the safety and health of our NMSU community. It is important to revisit current policy language, contracts, training programs in these turbulent times. Ensuring that safety through action and transparency can alleviate fears and concerns making space for all to thrive,” Hamilton said.
However, NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu sent an email to faculty and students reaffirming the university’s stance on the matter has not changed since 2016.
In the email obtained by Campus Reform, Arvizu pointed out all of the measures NMSU currently takes to protect DACA, illegal immigrant, and international students including not requiring proof of citizenship for admission, granting in-state tuition for some illegal immigrant students, and forbidding campus police from questioning or arresting students due to a lack of documentation.
Arvizu also defended NMSU’s relationship with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The agency provides opportunities to criminal justice students as well as visits campus to scout for post-graduation employment.
“Like many other issues in our world today, the topic of immigration is fraught with political tensions. I believe the best solution is for this issue to be resolved on a national level by our elected officials. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on ensuring the best possible environment for all our students to be successful,” Arvizu concluded.
Campus Reform spoke to former Trump DHS official and current Heritage Foundation senior advisor Mike Howell about the issue.
“Illegal aliens have already broken our laws by coming to the U.S. illegally – our schools and universities should not be taking the extra step of shielding them from the consequences of that law-breaking,” Howell said.
“Sanctuary policies are really just illegal activity protection rackets. Good on New Mexico State University for choosing student safety over woke political correctness,” he concluded.
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