Hundreds have signed a petition to make Fresno Pacific University a sanctuary for undocumented students in light of a Donald Trump presidency.
The petition, which was created on Thursday, calls for Fresno Pacific President Richard Kriegbaum to publicly pledge to protect undocumented students and refuse to release information regarding their immigration status or comply with “any immigration raids or efforts to deport.”
President-elect Trump has pledged to build a wall at the Mexico border, end sanctuary cities and terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order President Barack Obama created in 2012 that gives minors brought to the U.S. illegally a temporary reprieve from deportation.
The biblical mandate to advocate for those who are marginalized is substantial.
Fresno Pacific University petition
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The petition, signed by dozens of Fresno Pacific professors, students and alumni, asks the Christian university to “act immediately to protect the safety and well-being” of DACA recipients, and to expand financial aid and resources for undocumented students.
“Our peace and prosperity is tied to the peace and prosperity of our undocumented brothers and sisters at FPU. Our faith is intricately linked to our response to those in need, requiring and compelling us to provide protection for the vulnerable and shelter for those who wander,” the petition states.
“We ask that FPU take tangible measures toward becoming better informed as a community about issues of immigration and the lives of immigrants, including the pursuit of the political and cultural understanding necessary to make our campuses safe and hospitable.”
Tim Neufeld, a professor of contemporary Christian ministries at Fresno Pacific, helped write the petition and said he plans to officially present it to administration by the end of the week.
“We have a number of undocumented students on campus, and I have met with them personally and heard their stories,” he said. “We’re a Hispanic-serving institution. This is not done with aggressive intent, but just to create awareness and make the administration aware of the range of constituents that are passionate about this issue.”
I don’t know what’s going to happen in January. That’s a big question mark. But we are there for them.
Fresno State President Joseph Castro
Monday afternoon, the university said in a statement that Dale Simmons, interim senior vice president/provost, sent a message to DACA students and the university community before Thanksgiving citing Fresno Pacific’s mission and support: “We wish to assure DACA students that we stand with God, SO WE STAND WITH YOU.”
The statement says Fresno Pacific “is collaborating and networking with partner institutions, and our long-term goal is to have a positive influence on the new presidential administration. We and our partner institutions are researching this issue in order to provide positive counsel to the new administration.”
The petition points to an open letter initiated by Pomona College, located in Claremont in Southern California, that is calling for universities to support DACA and undocumented students. About 500 college presidents from across the country have signed the letter, including Fresno State’s Joseph Castro.
Fresno State opened a Dream Outreach Center last year that helps the nearly 1,000 undocumented students enrolled at the school. Castro said Fresno State plans to host meetings on campus this spring with civil rights experts and to address any questions undocumented students may have.
“The mood among undocumented students, by and large, is fear. I had some undocumented students in my office the day after the election. They were crying – they were trembling,” he said. “They’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen. They want reassurance from us. …
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in January. That’s a big question mark. But we are there for them. We support them as Fresno State students and we’re going to continue to help them succeed.”