Texas College Declines Sanctuary Campus ‘Right Now’

The University of Texas at Arlington president told students they cannot become a sanctuary campus–for now.

“The answer right now is no,” said UT-Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari on Wednesday during “Pizza with the President,” a regularly scheduled lunchtime gathering where the top admin serves free pizza and the student body tackle issues.

Karbhari explained their campus is a public institution and fueled by state and federal dollars. He said it stands to risk losing its funding if the university does not follow all laws, according to student newspaper The Shorthorn.

This comment follows recent anti-sanctuary city legislation that passed in the state Senate and next moves into the House. Senate Bill 4, which, if signed into law, would punish sanctuary cities, counties, and public colleges that fail to cooperate with federal immigration officials. Governor Greg Abbott placed banning sanctuary city policies on his emergency items for the 2017 legislative session.

“The moment we don’t follow a law, we become a private institution,” said Karbhari, “and that is something we cannot do.”

Even without adopting sanctuary campus policies, Karbhari indicated the university would only give out information and data requested by government agencies like the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with a court order or subpoena. Otherwise, they would not release the data, The Shorthorn reported. Karbhari said UT-Arlington does not often receive subpoena requests.

Interestingly, part of Duke University’s sanctuary campus policy is to withhold illegal immigrant students’ status from federal immigration officials unless they have a subpoena. Breitbart Texas reached out to Karbhari for clarification on his similar proposed action and awaits a response.

“We will do everything we can to make sure that our students are safe and secure on this campus, he said.

Mark Napieralski, a UT-Arlington senior and Progressive Student Union president, attended and felt Karbhari did not address illegal immigrant student safety sufficiently, according to The Shorthorn. On January 20, Napieralski led an inauguration day campus protest to “reject Trump’s agenda” and delivered a sanctuary campus petition to Karbhari. The “union” again rallied for sanctuary status on February 9, railing against the U.S. suspending its refugee program or placing temporary travel restrictions on individuals from the seven terror-prone nations named in President Trump’s recent executive order.

The Progressive Student Union describes itself as an “intersectional activist community fighting for the rights of marginalized people on campus and beyond.” Their Facebook profile links to a parent organization, the National Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a reboot of the 1960’s radical group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The SDS chapter at the University of California, Davis, staged a violent MILO protest, Breitbart News reported.

The “union” hosts a link to the online petition to make UT-Arlington a safe space. It states:

In a recent email to the students of UTA, our president said “As the 5th most diverse college campus in the nation, we treasure the ethnic and cultural richness that makes UTA unique. We pride ourselves on the pivotal role we play in the community of Arlington, North Texas, and beyond, through the global impact that our tremendous scholarship, research, and outreach produces. It is you, our faculty, staff and students, who make this impact possible, and we cherish each and every one of you.”

We are calling the University President to hold his word and protect Muslim, refugee and undocumented students.

On Facebook, the group shared its displeasure with Karbhari’s decision on Wednesday, calling it “unacceptable to put the needs of a system over the needs of students.”

The Progressive Student Union also had a meltdown over Trump backing the blue. On Facebook they posted: “And so – Trump shows he stands besides Police Brutality. Our fight and struggle to have UTA condemn Police Brutality will continue!”

A petition to declare the flagship UT-Austin a sanctuary circulated in December. President Greg Fenves said the university had no legal authority to become a sanctuary campus but said he signed a petition supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), former President Obama’s 2012 executive amnesty for children of illegal immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally, The Daily Texan reported.

The Arlington branch of the UT system is located within the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). UT-Arlington enrolls slightly less than 40,000 students on the campus, of which roughly 28,200 of them are undergraduates, and nearly 25 percent are Hispanic, 12 percent international. They list total global enrollment as 55,000.

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