Editorial: UMN’s Immigration Response Team vital for inclusion

To echo many students and faculty, we agree the team is an important step in addressing students’ anxieties.

Daily Editorial Board

Earlier this year, a petition started by Minnesota Student Association President Abeer Syedah gained widespread traction across the student body. The document outlined the need for protection of immigrant and undocumented students on campus — effectively declaring the University of Minnesota a sanctuary campus. The move came at a time when rhetoric by the Trump campaign incited fear for many immigrant students. The move was an effort to bridge the gap between administration and those burgeoning fears.

The petition was signed by more than 1,500 people. Similar pushes were made at a Board of Regent demonstration and through the Council of Graduate Students and University Student Senate resolutions.

President Kaler’s office responded by issuing a statement reaffirming the commitment of the University to embrace students from all backgrounds, which eventually led to the formation of the school’s Immigration Response Team’s formation.

University administrators, however, have not indicated they will symbolically pronounce the school a sanctuary campus.

To echo many students and faculty, we agree this team is an important step in addressing the anxieties, apprehensions and confusion many students face with regard to immigration laws. In a recent event, the group emphasized their purpose as a platform where immigrant, refugee, undocumented and DACA-status students have an opportunity to get their questions answered about resources on campus.

The move comes at a time when raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have once again surged nationwide under the new Trump administration. The raids have been one of the first instantiations of enforcing Trump’s Jan. 25 order to crack down on undocumented immigrants in the U.S.. Fear that undocumented immigrants without criminal records could be arrested and potentially deported has further deepened concerns.

The role the University — as an institution of higher learning — plays is vital. Reassuring students have a safe and secure learning environment should be at the center of the school’s mission. It is imperative that the University remain committed to this cause and continue to support the Immigration Response Team.

There must be a significant measure of flexibility — in both resources and policy — as we tread further into the years of Trump’s administration. We don’t know what further action the federal government will take to infringe upon the rights and the very humanity of our students in the spectrum of immigration. But we must be prepared to fight for their right to livelihood and education.