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UW-Madison Chancellor Signs Statement Supporting Undocumented Students

Chancellor Rebecca Blank Is Calling On Federal Government To Protect Undocumented Students, Prepared To Meet To Present Case

Rebecca Blank
Paul Sancya/AP Photo

University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank has signed a statement calling on the federal government to protect undocumented students on campuses across the country.

As of Monday evening, more than 180 college and university leaders signed a statement supporting the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals program, which is an immigration policy protecting certain undocumented students from deportation.

“We are prepared to meet with you to present our case,” the statement reads. “This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent – and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.”

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The statement, which Blank signed Monday, also urges business, civic, religious and nonprofit sectors to join in the effort of supporting undocumented immigrant students.

President-elect Donald Trump talked frequently about deporting undocumented immigrants during his campaign.

Cindy I-Fen Cheng, professor at UW-Madison; and Laura Minero and Sergio Gonzalez, graduate students at UW-Madison, wrote a letter two weeks ago calling on Blank and other administrators to declare the campus a sanctuary for undocumented students, staff and their family members.

“We see this as a concrete action the university can take to support and protect the people within our community,” the letter reads. “If we do nothing, then our stated commitments to defend our shared values of inclusion, justice and humanity will reveal themselves to be empty promises.”

As of Tuesday, thousands of people have signed the letter.

Blank does not have the sole authority to make the campus a sanctuary, according to a statement from UW-Madison.

“She has the authority to administer and operate the university but must do so within the limits of applicable federal and state laws and the policies and guidelines established by the Board of Regents,” according to the university’s statement.

UW-Madison’s statement claimed the university police department doesn’t routinely gather information about people’s immigration statuses, and doesn’t plan on changing that. It did state, however, that the Madison Police Department and university police department can enforce laws on campus without getting permission from the university.

Authors of the letter addressed to Blank said in a statement that they are “heartened” to see Blank has signed the statement calling on United States leaders to protect undocumented students.