SGA requests approval for declaring WSU a ‘Sanctuary Campus’


With the fear of President Elect Donald Trump’s promise to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) “immediately” looming this coming winter, Wichita State’s Student Government Association has firmly taken a stand to support the undocumented students who attend WSU and other Kansas schools.

Student government issued a statement which originally requested that President Bardo sign the ‘Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students’ hosted by the Pomona College on behalf of Wichita State University. During debate, the statement was amended to also request that Bardo declare WSU as a “Sanctuary Campus” and protect undocumented students “by providing legal assistance and refusing to voluntarily assist with the deportation of students unless legally compelled to do so.”

The final vote to support the statement was 31 in favor, zero opposed, and one abstention.

DACA is an immigration policy passed in June 2012 that allows individuals who entered the United States as minors to defer deportation action in renewable two-year periods, as well as be eligible for work permits. To qualify individuals must have entered the United States prior to June 2007, been under the age of 16 at that time, and have continuously lived in the US since then, as well as be younger than 31 years old as of June 15, 2012. Individuals must either be currently enrolled in school, graduate of a U.S. high school or a recipient of a Certificate of High School Equivalency, or an honorably discharged veteran of the US Armed Forces.

Additionally, individuals must have not been convicted of either a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

According to the statement, “in the State of Kansas, 13,000 students are eligible for protection under DACA.” The number of DACA eligible students currently attending Wichita State is unavailable. To date, 18 nations have taken advantage of DACA, including Mexico, Guatemala, Korea, China, India, Philippines, Vietnam and Jamaica.

According to Fall 2015 enrollment data, 15 of these nations are represented by international students at WSU.

“These undocumented students have this weight on their shoulders of not knowing where they stand here at the university, in Kansas, or here in the United States,’ said Savana Servantez, a student who spoke during public forum.

Two senators gave their speaking time during debate to Christopher Diaz de Leon, a WSU student currently utilizing DACA.

“I was brought to America when I was only two years old,” Diaz de Leon said. “I was brought here legally, but my visa expired.

“Ever since my visa expired, I’ve been living with handcuffs behind my back, knowing that I’m not living the same life as other people. I grew up here just like everybody else, I grew up with Americans.

“DACA opened up so many opportunities for me. [Before DACA] I couldn’t get a driver’s license, I wasn’t able to get a job, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to come to WSU.

“I didn’t choose to be in this position, but I’m fighting for my life,” Diaz de Leon said, beginning to choke up.

When he took his seat the entire senate stood and applauded him.

If Bardo agrees to sign the statement, he will be in good company. More than 100 university presidents have passed documents in support of DACA and the students it affects.

Senator Ian Englebright spoke of how DACA students set an example for others.

“They work hard, harder than most students in this room today,” said Englebright. “It’s students like that that we need more of on college campuses. They help make Wichita State University even better.

“This country was, and currently is, built on the backs of immigrants. Just because someone does not look like you or come from the same privileged background, that doesn’t mean we should disenfranchise them. We should, in fact, support them. They already make America great.”