Push for 'sanctuary campus' status at University of Houston

School is back in session at the University of Houston and the new semester brings a new push for 'sanctuary campus' status.

HOUSTON - School is back in session at the University of Houston and the new semester brings a new push for “sanctuary campus” status.

The goal is to protect undocumented students from deportation.

“It starts a conversation on, like, these people’s rights,” said The Daily Cougar news editor Traynor Swanson.

The student-run newspaper’s editorial board published a column in the back to school edition calling for the University of Houston to become the first “sanctuary campus” in Texas.

The goal is to protect undocumented students from arrests and deportation under stricter new state and federal guidelines, including SB-4.

“And we have about an estimated thousand undocumented students here, or Dreamers, or DACA recipients,” said Swanson.

Exercise Science major Vasty Venegas is one of them. “We pay our taxes and everything,” said Venegas. “And tuition.”

Venegas came to America from Mexico with her parents when she was 10 years old. She feels safe at UH, but supports any push for better protections.

“People come here for a reason,” said Venegas.  “To better yourself and go to school, have a life.”

Right now, UH administrators don’t even use the phrase “sanctuary campus.”

They say it has no legal meaning and may imply that a university and its students seek to break the law.

“The University of Houston will continue to provide a supportive education environment for all its students, and will continue to comply with all state and federal laws,” said a spokesman in a statement.

Even if those laws have consequences for certain students.

“It would be a good thing to protect these students, “said Swanson.  “Make them feel safe because they are valued members of our community.”

The newspaper expects to get mixed reaction from the “sanctuary campus” editorial. Click here to read it in full. 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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