Image Credits: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
To my campus peers,
Today, I witnessed a concerted effort to try to make our school a “sanctuary campus.” The rally required you to walk out of class at noon, come to the library mall and march to the square. It is on this march that you chanted things such as “Down, down with deportation! Up, up with education!” and “Safe for you! Safe for me! Sanctuary UNT!” I saw signs that had a Emma Lazarus quote from the Statue of Liberty written on them and ones that read “No human being is illegal.” These very chants and signs cause me to question whether or not you understand the implications of sanctuary campus or city legislation.
I do concede that “no human being is illegal” because it is impossible for someone to break the law simply by existing. However, it is possible for someone to break the law by blatantly ignoring the laws of this country and not following the proper protocol for legal entry into the United States. Sanctuary legislation is not “safe for you” or “safe for me.” The primary purpose of a sanctuary city or university is to protect illegal immigrants who commit additional crimes. It is a federal crime to enter the country illegally or stay here past your allotted time. Our local and state authorities should adhere to this federal law. They should not provide sanctuary to those who are here illegally and continue to commit crimes. When they do not cooperate, innocent people such as Kate Steinle are killed and crimes against law abiding citizens occur.
We must come to realize, as a community, that sanctuary campus legislation is dangerous. You quoted Emma Lazarus on your poster. She wrote, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” This quote is written at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which is a beacon of freedom, hope, and prosperity. However, when immigrants arrived at Ellis Island, they were subject to intense health and legal screenings, some of which were three to five hour questioning sessions. If they failed to pass the health and legal screenings, they were detained until they could pass or were sent back to their country. Even then, we had a strenuous process for entering the country, but we wanted people to come here. Ellis Island processed 12 million immigrants when it was in operation.
In addition, you chanted “Down, down with deportation! Up, up with education!” However, passing sanctuary legislation in Texas would, in fact, hurt our education. Governor Greg Abbott is against sanctuary policies, and has publicly expressed that he would cut funding to our university or city should we designate ourselves as a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. How is losing money advancing our education? Funding cuts would mean hikes in tuition and would limit the amount of people who could pursue a college degree. Policies that hurt access to higher education are not what you want, correct?
Although I have already experienced my fair share of being insulted and called a xenophobe by this community, I want to convey to you that I, as well as other students, are not against immigration. We believe in the American dream, and we believe in coming to pursue a better life. Personally, I advocate for immigration reform. It takes too long to come here legally, and I understand that. However, our safety as citizens must come first.