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Sanctuary demanded: UTRGV President Guy Bailey warns move might be counterproductive

December 7, 2016 GMT

EDINBURG — Armed with the backing of dozens of classmates and professors, and the signatures of more than 1,600 supporters, students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley marched through campus demanding a safe place to study for undocumented students.

“I will not tolerate silence by President Guy Bailey,” said UTRGV student Abraham Diaz. “The fear that my mother has, the fear that my mother has, the fear that my brothers and sisters here in campus have, is nothing to be dismissed. … His silence does not provide safety.”

UTRGV’s Minority Affairs Council, the Center for Mexican American Studies and La Union Chicanx Hijxs de Aztlán were among those who authored the petition asking for UTRGV President Guy Bailey to declare the university a sanctuary campus.

The petition was published on Change.org on Nov. 17 and it quickly gained momentum acquiring 1,638 supporters as of Tuesday, when Diaz led the march to the president’s office to personally submit it to Bailey.

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“His administration needs to choose a side,” Diaz said. “Either stand with us on the right side of history or against us.”

Declaring UTRGV a sanctuary university would mean university officials agree to not share any information of its undocumented students if there are any future requests from federal or state agencies. Similar petitions have also been circulating at other universities including UT-Austin, Brown and New York University.

“Students, families and community members are fearful, and we need university leadership and locally elected officials to emerge in public support of all of our students,” the petition by UTRGV students states.

UTRGV students also received the support from the university’s faculty senate, which passed a resolution Friday backing the initiative and also putting pressure on Bailey, said Stephanie Alvarez, associate professor of Mexican American studies.

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