The Graduate Student Government is supporting efforts to make the University of Maryland a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, GSG President Stephanie Cork announced during the organization's meeting Friday. The efforts were spearheaded by student organization Political Latinx United for Movement and Action in Society.
The proposed bill urges the university administration to define its stance toward possible anti-immigrant federal or state policies, support continued enrollment of undocumented immigrants at this university and offer counseling services for students who fall under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, said Nishat Seraj, the vice president of legislative affairs.
President Obama started the DACA program through executive action in 2012 to temporarily shield undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country at a young age from deportation, and to allow them to attend four-year universities.
President-elect Donald Trump has promised to overturn Obama's immigration executive actions, which would terminate DACA's protections, according to his campaign website.
"[University President Wallace Loh] has signed a statement in support of students that are 'DACAmented'" Cork said. "But I think it's important for the GSG to have a discussion about what we want for our students on campus, what we want to see from our administration and how we can as a community come together during a tough time for many."
Loh sent out a campus-wide email Nov. 21 in support of undocumented students that urged this university's community to "call on the leaders of our nation to continue the DACA youth initiative."
Presidents at other Big Ten universities, such as Rutgers University and the University of Minnesota, have also issued statements of their support for establishing sanctuary campuses.
Although Loh has shown public support for sanctuary campuses, Arijit Sehanobish, a mathematics doctoral student, said university officials need to take further steps to outline what they plan to do if DACA is overturned. University Police Chief David Mitchell said he would issue a statement but hasn't yet, Cork added.
The bill is still in its early stages as the GSG decides how they want to move forward, but the organization hopes to pass something early next semester, Cork said.
The GSG's initiative echoes a recent surge of support to protect undocumented students. More than 150 petitions have been started at universities across the country in an attempt to declare them sanctuary campuses. A petition at this university started by #UmdDreamers has garnered more than 1,300 signatures.
"We're going to have to watch it unfold," Cork said. "We're going to have to keep pressing our administrators, pressing our legislators. … It's going to be a long struggle."