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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Students petition for UF as sanctuary campus

Update: 2 p.m. Friday

UF spokesperson Janine Sikes wrote in an email that UF is aims to be a safe community for all students and faculty, specifically those who are international.

She said UF is committed to keeping sensitive records about individuals confidential, and it doesn't collect records of the identities of undocumented students. Students can choose to not publicize their address.

University Police will also not take law enforcement actions under the immigration law because that is the role of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, she said. UF offers confidential counseling through the U Matter, We Care program.

Original Story

A week following President Donald Trump’s travel ban, five UF students are pushing to make UF a sanctuary for undocumented Gators.

The petition, published Wednesday by Gators for a Sanctuary Campus, aims to collect 5,000 signatures in hopes of persuading UF President Kent Fuchs to take extra steps to protect undocumented students, faculty and staff.

In just a day, the online petition has gathered more than 1,000 signatures on

Although the students formed the group just after Trump’s inauguration, the recent executive order to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries forced them to take action, group spokesperson Christian Tirado said.

The petition, signed by about 1,100 as of press time, asks President Fuchs and Vice President for Student Affairs David Parrott to protect members of the UF community by not sharing their personal information and immigration status with the U.S. Immigration and Customs enforcement.

The petition also asks they prevent law enforcement agencies from conducting raids on campus and encourage University Police to not enforce immigration laws.

As of press time, Fuchs has not released an official statement about the petition or UF being a sanctuary campus, but on Jan. 29, he sent an email to students voicing his support to all international students, faculty and staff. Currently, UF has 167 students, faculty and staff from the countries part of the travel ban, which bars U.S. entry to citizens of the seven countries — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen — for 90 days, according to Alligator archives.

But Tirado said UF needs to become a sanctuary to ensure all students are protected.

“I remain hopeful that we will be able to resist the vitriolic attacks against immigrants,” the 21-year-old UF political science and history junior said.

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Gators for a Sanctuary Campus is also planning to ask for support from the City Commission, specifically Mayor Lauren Poe, and to pass a resolution about the sanctuary campus in the UF Student Senate, Tirado said.

Adrian Acuna Higaki, a 21-year-old UF microbiology and cell science junior, signed the petition Thursday after seeing a friend share it on Facebook.

An immigrant from Peru, he became an American citizen after going through the legal process for 12 years. But he knows others who haven’t been as lucky, and students need sanctuary in their universities.

“Education is a human right,” he said. “It’s something you shouldn’t be punished for wanting.”

But others don’t see a sanctuary campus as the right option for UF.

Theodore Dale, 20, said sanctuary campuses and cities suggest they’re above the law. Housing undocumented people is a problem because it goes against legal boundaries.

“The problem with this is that just because you have an emotional-suffering story does not grant you status above the law,” the UF materials science and engineering junior said.


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