Today’s announcement regarding ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has grave implications for our country’s undocumented immigrant students. UTSA’s official statement, together with Chancellor McRaven’s statement, clearly articulate our institutional support for our Dreamer students.
As a lifelong educator I feel a moral obligation to add my own voice to those defending the Dreamers. As your president, I realize my statements and actions are judged in a broader context beyond my feelings as an individual citizen. But that is precisely why speaking out is the right thing to do. It is times like these when leaders must use their positions of influence to stand up for those most vulnerable.
I chose to dedicate my life to academia for a multitude of reasons, the most fundamental of which is the power of education to help us appreciate different perspectives, value diversity and encourage civic-mindedness – qualities critical to the pursuit of a just and peaceful world.
During my interview process for UTSA’s presidency, I saw so many things that attracted me to this university. I took special note of the core institutional values upon which UTSA was founded: inclusiveness, respect, integrity and collaboration, among others. Indeed, as a Hispanic-serving institution that fosters a multicultural learning environment, UTSA is uniquely positioned to produce our world’s future leaders. It is what we do. To succeed, we must cultivate a community that is inclusive of a wide variety of backgrounds, and our first-generation students play a critical part of that mix.
We have Dreamers on our campus. Their presence here is a testament to their fortitude, resilience and their own specific contributions to our familia. I want you to know that I stand with each and every one of our DACA students.
While UTSA will always comply with the law, we do not track the number of DACA students on campus, and, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we will not release the personal information of our students outside of public directory information. Any students with DACA-related concerns are encouraged to contact Carol Gonzalez, student ombudsperson, at 210-458-4040.
As a community we must do everything we can to help our fellow Roadrunners in their time of need. If you know Dreamer students, now is the time to give them emotional support during all the uncertainty and fear they will face in the months to come. They will need their friends and faculty/staff mentors now more than ever.
We cannot control the decisions made by our governing bodies, but we can make our voices heard. I am in active communication with our congressional delegation to advocate for a solution. University leadership will be working closely with our community partners to provide support and resources to our DACA colleagues. I will do everything I can to ensure UTSA is a safe haven for learning, for all people from all backgrounds.
I will continue to keep you apprised as we work through this as a community of one.