A resolution asking President Barack Obama to support undocumented students — brought to the table by BAMN, the national coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary — passed at Central Student Government’s first meeting of the semester. The body voted 26-4 with 7 abstaining.
Last December, CSG passed a similar resolution — authored by CSG President David Schafer, CSG Vice President Micah Griggs and Chief of Staff Noah Betman, all LSA seniors. The resolution was a joint-statement by members of CSG expressing solidarity for undocumented students and need for a continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which allows undocumented immigrants to “apply for temporary deferrals of deportations and (for) work permits.”
Currently, according to a New York Times article cited by Shafer in his resolution, about 741,000 individuals protected under DACA in the United State.
BAMN returned to CSG to propose a resolution that would urge Obama to use his executive power to stand against President-elect Donald Trump’s future intentions to overturn DACA, an act that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents as minors to defer deportation. The resolution asked CSG to directly send a statement to the White House expressing support for students under DACA.
University of Michigan alum Kate Stenvig acknowledged the past resolution, hoping to now directly talk to the White House instead of merely the previous general statement of solidarity.
“The reason that we want you to take it a step further to specifically ask Obama to do this action is this is a real concrete thing that can be done, that can be a real victory against the threat of deportation,” she said. “If Obama does nothing to protect those people, the people who have DACA and the people who applied for DACA would be in a worse position than before they applied. That would be a real betrayal, and I think it would show the huge bankruptcy of principal in our whole political system.”
The new resolution, authored by CSG members who are also involved with BAMN, cites several problems left by the Obama administration.
“Applying for DACA required giving the government extensive personal and familial information, including school records, addresses, fingerprints and a DNA sample,” it stated. “DACA applicants relied on the promises of President Obama and his administration that the data they provided would never be used against them or their families, and took this risk in order to advance their own futures as well as their families and their communities.”
LSA senior Keysha Walls said protecting documented students was Obama’s obligation, since he was elected with the promise of protecting them. The resolution’s authors believed Obama failed to take appropriate action toward immigration rights during his final days of presidency, pointing to this as evidence of abandoning those under DACA.
Walls noted applying to DACA was a large risk for undocumented youth as it required personal information, including DNA samples, that could be used to identify and deport them. According to BAMN, this data should be protected through executive action because of his administration’s moral obligation to continue protecting immigrant youth.
“The safety of these undocumented immigrants is only promised under the Obama administration,” Walls said. “For Obama to know these things, and not take every cautionable step to ensure the continued safety of undocumented peoples in this nation is disgusting and inhumane … If he will not act on his own, then we must take action, in doing so set the example for him.”
Trump’s campaign has been controversial — especially in regards to immigration. Trump has promised to build a wall on the United States’ southern border, and claimed Mexico would pay for it — though recently Trump has asked Congress to do so instead. Trump has discussed a “Muslim ban,” and has suggested stopping those who practice the religion or come from Muslim-dominate countries from entering the United States.
CSG had a heated debate over whether to keep the political aspects of the resolution. Schafer asked the authors to remove references to Trump in order to keep CSG politically unbiased. This decision was contentious among the body, as a few members felt that the resolution should hold Trump to official statements he has made during his campaign and the impending prospects of his presidency.
“Understanding the ability and the responsibilities of this organization, I don’t feel comfortable the way in which it’s worded,” he said, explaining CSG should support students across the political spectrum.
Despite the debate, Schafer’s suggestion was included in the draft. Ultimately, with several modifications eliminating all mentions of Trump, the resolution passed.
Engineering senior Alex Brewster commended Schafer’s amendment, stating he feels University students could still show their support for immigrants without pointing fingers and implicating certain figures.
“As an immigrant myself, I think it’s really important to stress immigrants rights, but on the other hand, I think one thing that, even though I did vote for the resolution, I didn’t enjoy was that we were playing the blame game, and I do appreciate David for taking the names out,” he said. “I think the resolution that we passed still hammers home that University of Michigan students still care about immigrants … whether they are documented or undocumented, we accept them as human beings.”