Sanctuary petition circulates, Illinois House scheduled to vote on ACCESS bill


Mitchell Fransen

Students gather at Alma Mater to march through the Quad and down Green Street in order to protest President Elect Donald Trump on Friday.

By Megan Jones, Staff Writer

A petition to make the University a sanctuary for undocumented students is spreading in the wake of President-elect Donald Trump’s win.

A sanctuary area has policies of not cooperating with federal immigrations authorities, providing public protection and safety for undocumented students. For example, the University of Illinois Police Department would not execute deportation orders and the administration would not share private student information about where they live.

The petition was started by a group of professors from various liberal arts departments and has over 1,700 signatures so far. It will be sent to President Timothy Killeen, Chancellor Robert Jones and Associate Chancellor for Diversity Assata Zerai.

Naomi Paik, assistant professor in Asian American studies, helped start the petition and said faculty was brainstorming how they could show their students they want them to stay on campus.

“There is definitely a deep and profound concern about what is going to happen come January 21,” she said. “Even for our U.S.-born citizen students, they have parents, aunties and uncles that could face deportation. So we are talking about rupturing their foundation of their life.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

She said she is unsure how many undocumented students are on campus, but she also said that number should be kept private so immigration officers and people who are anti-immigrant do not know.

The idea is spreading across college campuses throughout the United States in fear of Trump’s plans to deport millions of undocumented immigrants once he takes office in January.

He has also promoted repealing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, program created by President Barack Obama in an executive action in 2012. The act allows undocumented immigrants who were in the U.S. before the age of 16 to get a renewable work permit, allowing them to stay in the country for two years.

“We are dealing with the Trump-effect and want to make sure undocumented students feel like they belong here, they can go to school and live and work here freely, so that means establishing a social environment that recognizes them as members of our community that are valued,” Paik said.

Other schools included in this movement are University of Wisconsin-Madison, DePaul University and Northwestern University. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has also said Chicago will be a sanctuary city.

Killeen has already backed support for the Student ACCESS bill, Senate bill 2196, which was scheduled for a vote in the Illinois House Wednesday, but the session was cancelled. The Student ACCESS organization delivered a petition to Gov. Bruce Rauner with 1,500 signatures in support. In April, the senate approved the bill, 30-19, with several Republicans in opposition.

Currently, Paik said Illinois is one of 11 states to give in-state tuition to undocumented students. However, they are not eligible to receive financial aid. The bill allows Illinois nine public universities to offer aid.

Aid offered does not include the state-supported Monetary Award Program, MAP, grants. They are currently able to apply for the Dream Fund, but in 2014, 1,720 students applied and only 26 were awarded in scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $6,000, according to the Latino Policy Forum.

Roughly 1,500 undocumented students in Illinois would benefit from the bill, one percent of the Illinois student population, according to the Latino Policy Forum.  

The bill does not impact revenue streams at all, but instead just makes more people eligible to receive the amount of aid given.

“It is a bill that fits hand-in-glove with the vision of our founders — ensuring that all deserving students have equal access to pursue their dreams and share those talents to serve the public good,” Killeen wrote in a letter.

With its passing, this would make Illinois the sixth state to provide access to aid to undocumented students.

[email protected]