Killeen: UI can’t declare campuses as sanctuaries

Chancellor+Robert+Jones+and+Interim+Provost+Edward+Feser+sit+in+a+Senate+Executive+Committee+meeting.

Brian Bauer

Chancellor Robert Jones and Interim Provost Edward Feser sit in a Senate Executive Committee meeting.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

UPDATE (12/6 12:30 p.m.):

The University won’t declare its campuses as sanctuaries for undocumented students University President Timothy Killeen wrote in a Massmail Tuesday.

He said the University, as a public institution, must uphold state and federal laws, and declaring campuses as sanctuaries is “not well specified and may actually jeopardize” the University. He committed to protecting undocumented students within the law, including to protect student and employee privacy information such as immigration status.

The University also supports legislation that would give public universities in Illinois the legal ability to provide financial aid for undocumented students,  Killeen said.

“Serving students, regardless of their background, is at the forefront of who we are and what we have always been,” Killeen said in the Massmail. “The University of Illinois System will continue to participate in conversations about these issues at the state and national level. We pledge to advocate for and work to protect our undocumented students.”

The Massmail comes one day after about 20 students and employees presented a petition to Chancellor Robert Jones at Monday’s Academic Meeting urging the University to formally declare itself a sanctuary campus and protect undocumented students.

The petition had around 2,300 signatures. It was started by a group of professors from various liberal arts departments.

It asks the University to guarantee maintaining students’ privacy and immigration status, assure an inclusive campus environment and guarantee in-state tuition to students who are currently covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. The petition also includes the request to assign an office to assist and pursue funding for undocumented students.

“Presenting you this letter, of course, is only the first step in our work together,” said Siobhan Sommerville, the senator who led the group Monday. “We look forward to working with you and establishing concrete ways to serve the immediate and long-term needs of our undocumented students, to foster the welcoming community we all hold so dear and to ensure educational access in keeping with the mission of the University of Illinois.”

Sommerville thanked Jones for his advocacy for undocumented students. He has not taken a public stance on the petition, saying he has yet to read it.

“My general sense of what’s in there is that it already includes many things the University is already working on, and I think the petitioners are trying to make sure we put additional emphasis on,” Jones said. “We look forward to taking a look at it, and maybe there are more things we need to pay attention to.”

Jones signed a petition in support of DACA students’ ability to access higher education, in-state tuition, and other benefits, he said at last week’s Senate Executive Committee. All three chancellors from the University system along with 300 other presidents nationwide have signed the letter.

Jones created a working group last week to review the University’s policies and the legality of turning the campus into a sanctuary or providing these policies for undocumented students. He said to expect a clearly stated position from the campus within the next few weeks.

“We are working not only on this campus, but across the entire system, and we are trying to coordinate and really dig in to best understand not only the legal issues, but the practical issues and how they align with our values as a public university,” Jones said.

Naomi Paik, assistant professor in Asian American studies, is one of the authors of the petition and said she hopes they can schedule meetings with Jones, UI’s legal counsel and even President Timothy Killeen.

“One major goal is to get policies in place to help undocumented and DACA students,” she said. “What can we do even within the justification of UI to safeguard them? Can we have legal counsel for them? Can we fundraise from them if they lose DACA and can’t have work study jobs?”

She said the petition, along with a statement passed about inclusivity and best practices with the University of Illinois Police Department, are both starting points to send messages to students that there are people on campus who have student’s best interests at heart.

“We want to show students who are vulnerable that we are paying attention and we want them to know that there are people on campus who have your back,” she said.

Orginal article:
Chancellor Robert Jones received a petition urging the University to formally declare itself a sanctuary campus and protect undocumented students at Monday’s Academic Senate meeting.

Around 20 students and employees presented the petition, which had approximately 2,300 signatures. It was started by a group of professors from various liberal arts departments.

It asks the University to guarantee maintaining students’ privacy and immigration status, assure an inclusive campus environment and guarantee in-state tuition to students who are currently covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, which protects undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as children. The petition also includes the request to assign an office to assist and pursue funding for undocumented students.

“Presenting you this letter, of course, is only the first step in our work together,” said Siobhan Somerville, the senator who led the group Monday. “We look forward to working with you and establishing concrete ways to serve the immediate and long-term needs of our undocumented students, to foster the welcoming community we all hold so dear and to ensure educational access in keeping with the mission of the University of Illinois.”

Somerville thanked Jones for his advocacy for undocumented students. He has not taken a public stance on the petition, saying he has yet to read it.

“My general sense of what’s in there is that it already includes many things the University is already working on, and I think the petitioners are trying to make sure we put additional emphasis on,” Jones said. “We look forward to taking a look at it, and maybe there are more things we need to pay attention to.”

Jones signed a petition in support of DACA students’ ability to access higher education, in-state tuition and other benefits, he said at last week’s Senate Executive Committee. All three chancellors from the University system along with 300 other presidents nationwide have signed the letter.

Jones created a working group last week to review the University’s policies and the legality of turning the campus into a sanctuary or providing these policies for undocumented students. He said to expect a clearly stated position from the campus within the next few weeks.

“We are working not only on this campus, but across the entire system, and we are trying to coordinate and really dig in to best understand not only the legal issues, but the practical issues and how they align with our values as a public university,” Jones said.

Naomi Paik, assistant professor in Asian-American studies, is one of the authors of the petition and said she hopes they can schedule meetings with Jones, UI’s legal counsel and even President Timothy Killeen.

One major goal is to get policies in place to help undocumented and DACA students,” she said. “What can we do even within the justification of UI to safeguard them? Can we have legal counsel for them? Can we fundraise from them if they lose DACA and can’t have work-study jobs?”

She said the petition, along with a statement passed about inclusivity and best practices with the University of Illinois Police Department, are both starting points to send messages to students that there are people on campus who have students’ best interests at heart.

“We want to show students who are vulnerable that we are paying attention and we want them to know that there are people on campus who have your back,” she said.

Megan Jones contributed to this report.

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@AngelicaLaVito