MADISON, Wis. — In the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, a group of University of Wisconsin-Madison students and faculty have written an open letter and a petition asking administrators to make campus a sanctuary for undocumented students.
Some churches around the state have already become sanctuaries, and while Chancellor Rebecca Blank said she does not have the authority to make campus a sanctuary, her office, along with the petition’s authors and student government are working to change campus policies.
Laura Minero is a Ph.D. student studying counseling psychology. She was born in Mexico, and despite the fact that she grew up in central California, she is an undocumented immigrant.
“I can say for myself my parents making the sacrifice that they did 20 years ago, if they hadn’t made that sacrifice I would not be here. I would not be at a top university getting my Ph.D. as an undocumented student,” she said.
Trump has promised to repeal the law that protects undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. After his victory, Minero and others created a petition to make UW a sanctuary campus for students.
“The reason that we started the letter and the reason that we petitioned so strongly with the Chancellor and the administration is because we believe that if we as a community have made a commitment to these students and their families, it’s our obligation to continue that commitment,” petition co-author Sergio González said.
The petition asks that UW prevent immigration officials from accessing undocumented students’ personal information, including class schedules and addresses.
Many immigrants across the state and country are also unsure of what is coming next. UW elementary education student Lydia Wells said the younger children she works with have even expressed concern.
“You will see students who are either Mexican or come from Spanish-speaking families, they’re on the receiving end of a lot of comments. It’s kind of instilled a lot of fear in children and a lot of uncertainty,” Wells said.
Minero said despite the rhetoric, undocumented immigrants value their opportunity to receive an education and work hard, just like any other student on campus.
“Every student who pays tuition or faculty and staff that are part of this community, should be part of the Wisconsin Idea. That we uphold so much here every student matters and every student belongs on campus and we should treat every student equally,” she said.