Sanctuary Debate Heats Up


The sanctuary movement continues as undocumented people and supporters fight on to create safe environments to continue living their “American Dream,” but federal and state officials threaten to cut funding to cities or state institutions if they should decide to offer sanctuary to undocumented immigrants.

Gov. Greg Abbott cut $1.5 million funds from Travis County on Feb. 1 after County Sheriff Sally Hernandez declared her new immigration policy, which limits the local law enforcement to comply with the federal immigration authorities, the Texas Tribune reported.

After the funds were cut, a crowdsourcing site, which currently raised over $100,000, was launched by the State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. The site reads, “Together, we will raise the funds necessary to ensure that our community’s vulnerable do not suffer during these uncertain times.”

On Feb. 8, the Texas Senate passed the Senate Bill 4 after Abbott declared the banning of sanctuary cities as an emergency issue. Sen. Charlie Perry filed the bill, which enforces the Texas law enforcement agencies to comply with the federal enforcement agencies. It will ban sanctuary cities and college campuses in the state of Texas and cut their funding, ABC reported.

“This bill ensures that there is predictability that our laws are applied without prejudice” no matter who is in custody,” Perry said.

Last year, students and faculty and staff at the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University staged a campus walk out. They demanded the university’s administration to take action, North Texas Daily reported.

“We want our campuses to become sanctuaries so that we will know that the administration cares about its students who feel most marginalized because of this election,” David Lopez, UNT student said. “We hope the outcome will be for the university to agree on becoming a sanctuary along with other universities across the nation. We have faith that this will work and we will make our voices heard.”

Texas State University also joined the movement, but their President, Denise Trauth informed students in a letter that the institution would not be declared a sanctuary campus, the Huffington Post reported.

Alumna of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Stephanie Rodriguez composed a petition which currently obtains 157 signatures to seek President Dr. Ray Keck’s support. It read. “Please show us how Texas A&M University-Commerce protects its undocumented community during their times of need and how it continues to strive towards a more inclusive environment for ALL students.”

On Jan. 10, Rodriguez, a current DACA student, and a supporter gathered to meet with Dr. Tomas Aguirre, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students at A&M-Commerce to enforce the petition forward.

“The DACA order has changed the lives of many students, including mine,” Rodriguez said. “I still remember entering the doors of the Hispanic Outreach office and having a conversation with a staff member about how I could receive financial assistance and how to apply to the university as an undocumented student.”

Rodriguez now works for a non-profit organization, Refugee Services of Texas, where she helps refugees and other displaced immigrants resettle.

On Jan. 26, Rodriguez sent out a petition update where she persuaded students to use the hashtag #StopSB4. She also encouraged DACA students and anyone else in need of support to reach out to a professor, community leader, or herself.

“Today, the fate of many undocumented students covered under DACA is at limbo,” Rodriguez said. “As we await new executive orders by the new president who has constantly threatened to end the program. Now, we wait anxiously to know what our future will look like.”

Link to previous article: What is a sanctuary campus?