Graphic by Tristan Ipock

“Texas will not tolerate sanctuary campuses or cities. I will cut funding for any state campus if it establishes sanctuary status. #tcot”

Governor Greg Abbott’s threat in Dec. 2016 to cut funding from any public campus that declares itself as a ‘sanctuary campus’ represents a danger to the education for students of any background.

While the term “sanctuary campus” is not clearly defined, it is derived from the term “sanctuary city.” There is no specific legal definition for what constitutes a sanctuary jurisdiction, but the term is used widely to refer to state and local governments that limit collaboration with the federal government on immigration enforcement. Proponents of sanctuary cities argue that when people aren’t fearful of deportation, they’re more likely to cooperate with police and communities are safer.

Abbott’s extortion disenfranchises student’s ability to pursue an education and faculty’s ability to provide one. UTSA is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, and as of fall 2016 Hispanics made up 51.4 percent of the student body—14,889 students.

Abbott’s announcement may be his way of attempting to enforce immigration policies, or the way of those who support this policy, but it has far-reaching consequences for all students and UTSA community members.

To threaten universities’ funding is to coerce these public institutions to uphold draconian immigration laws—at the risk of reducing the quality of education Texas students receive. Education that represents the future of our nation, state and local communities.

Abbott’s threat is a bully tactic aimed at universities across the state. As a university with a core value of inclusivity, UTSA should protect DACA students and our fellow UTSA community members that Abbott’s threat could affect.

As the search for a new university president continues, we should insist upon a presidential candidate that embodies all of UTSA’s core values, a president who would be willing to stand up to threats from bullies, even if those bullies are the governor of the state or the president of the nation.

Schools are meant to be sanctuaries of learning.

Any rule that excludes people or restricts access to the classroom doesn’t hurt only those excluded, it hurts the entire university community. Higher education is designed to recognize the perspectives of many voices—including some of our society’s most vulnerable members.

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