Amid student coalition demands and strengthened immigration policies under President Trump’s administration, the University of Maryland is creating an undocumented student coordinator position.
“As part of the university’s ongoing commitment to undocumented students … We are assigning a UMD staff person to serve as a coordinator to address the immediate needs of the undocumented student population,” university spokeswoman Katie Lawson wrote in a statement to The Diamondback on Monday. “We will continue to assess the need for staff support moving forward.”
Lawson noted that this university is also formalizing an undocumented student work group that “relies on expertise from units across campus,” and is providing web resources to ensure the latest applicable information for these students is available.
Last semester, ProtectUMD issued 64 demands to this university’s administration. Ten of those demands directly concerned undocumented students at this university, including a demand for “a full-time Undocumented Student Coordinator to advocate for, advise, represent, and protect undocumented and DACAmented students.”
There are 113 students as of fall 2016 covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allows undocumented youth who qualify to stay in the U.S. to work and study in two-year increments.
While Trump’s administration announced on Feb. 21 that the DACA program will remain intact, it is stepping up its immigration enforcement and deportation efforts. Department of Homeland Security memos from last month stated that undocumented immigrants convicted of any crime can be deported, and that there are no exceptions to the deportation proceedings.
Some university students took to social media to announce the new coordinator position Sunday night, expressing their pride and excitement.
“UMD will officially have an Undocumented Student Coordinator!!!” wrote Karla Casique, this university’s American Indian Student Union president, on Twitter. “student power is REAL–thank u to staff as well! La lucha continues.”
— Erica Fuentes (@EricaYoFuentes) March 13, 2017
Other schools such as Georgetown University and the University of Illinois — also a Big Ten school — already have undocumented student coordinators, or have given staff members a similar position.
ProtectUMD last semester also asked this university to become a recognized sanctuary campus, form an undocumented student resource office and hire a full-time immigration attorney for the Offices of Undergraduate and Graduate Student Legal Aid.
While the Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy office and the Asian American studies department have collaborated to provide more resources and created a website for the undocumented community in December, there is still no designated office for aiding undocumented students. The International Student and Scholar Services office has been offering similar services, as well as executive order updates and travel assistance.
In January, university President Wallace Loh sent an email responding to ProtectUMD’s demands and called a formal sanctuary campus status “unnecessary,” as this university already follows sanctuary campus policies despite not holding a designation. A sanctuary campus means the administration will not volunteer information on undocumented students to the federal government unless required to by law.
Several student groups have rallied to show their support of the undocumented student community in wake of Trump’s election in November. The Student Government Association and Graduate Student Government have both passed resolutions in support of declaring this university a sanctuary campus.
In February, the Political Latinx United for Movement and Action in Society also raised more than $1,000 at its DREAM Gala to assist undocumented students with legal aid. A March 8 panel in the Biosciences Research Building discussed as well how this university can do more to help undocumented students, such as creating more staff positions dedicated to providing guidance and resources to these students.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.