Following President-elect Donald Trump’s Tuesday victory, a letter has begun circulating online calling on UW-Madison administrators to protect students, staff and their family members “who face imminent deportation” because of their undocumented status.
Trump promised to deport anyone living in the country illegally during his campaign, and his election has already inspired fear among Latino students in Madison, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
The letter calls on Chancellor Rebecca Blank as well as other senior administrators to declare the UW-Madison campus as a sanctuary for community members who are undocumented or those who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which is a program that allows certain immigrants to receive renewable two-year work permits.
UW-Madison students Sergio M. González, Laura P. Minero and professor Cindy I-Fen Cheng wrote the letter Saturday, which has been signed more than 2,500 times by faculty members,
Minero, who is an undocumented UW-Madison doctoral student, spoke about her fears of imminent deportation at a Thursday demonstration that featured around 2,500 community members protesting Trump’s election.
González said many in the UW-Madison community are “still processing what happened this week,” but are already “looking for ways to protect [themselves]” following Trump’s election.
He said other campuses around the nation—including Yale University, Brown University and the University of Texas-Austin—are working on drafting similar letters to issue demands to their administrators.
There is a precedent for labeling the city of Madison as an immigrant sanctuary from law enforcement agencies, according to González. He said the campus was a sanctuary in 1985 for Central American refugees.
González urged the university to take this “concrete action” to help historically marginalized groups on campus.
“I think it is imperative that the university is at the front of this because I’ve seen in the past year that our university is struggling with how to deal with issues of racism on campus,” González said. “This is how we can be on the forefront of that issue.”
UW-Madison spokesperson Meredith McGlone responded to the letter Monday, addressing the concerns that many students and faculty members had.
"We recognize that many people around campus and the broader community have concerns about the future of undocumented students, staff and family members," McGlone said. "The Chancellor does not have independent authority to declare the campus a sanctuary."
McGlone went on to say that the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department "does not routinely gather information about the citizenship or immigration status of the people who have interactions with police officers" and that the university has no intentions to change this practice. However, she did stress that the UWPD and the Madison Police Department do "have full authority from the state legislature to enforce laws and applicable rules on campus without seeking permission of the university."
UPDATE Nov. 15 1:42 p.m.: This story was updated to include an additional response from Meredith McGlone.