St. John’s Alumnus Creates Petition to Protect Undocumented Students
COLLEGEVILLE/ST. JOSEPH -- With over 1,500 signatures, a petition to make the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University campuses sanctuaries is being considered by the institution's presidents.
The petition was started by St. John's alumnus, Edwin Torres, it calls for protection for students who might face deportation, specifically those who classify as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students.
DACA was created in 2012, the program allows children who entered the U.S. illegally before turning 16-years-old to receive exemption from deportation through the use of a renewable work permit. Other criteria including legal status, length of living in the U.S. and criminal record are also considered before the permit is issued. The permit is required to be renewed every two-years.
Torres says with President-elect Donald Trump's proposed immigration policy changes he saw the need to create the petition, to make sure DACA students can't be deported while physically on campus.
"700,000 DACA students exist, meaning that they are out of the shadows, they are able to work legally, they are able to pursue their dreams and be able to be a productive member of society."
President-elect Donald Trump states on his website, he would work to end sanctioned cities and immediately terminate President Obama's two illegal executive amnesties.
Spokesperson for St. Ben's and St. John's, Michael Hemmesch says both the College of St. Benedict President Mary Dana Hinton and St. John's University President Michael Hemesath are reviewing the petition and hope to have a decision made as soon as possible.
Hemmesch says both presidents do support DACA along with 470 other university and college presidents nationwide.
If St. John's and St. Ben's campuses would become sanctuaries it wouldn't just protect DACA students but any undocumented student on campus. Torres says the chances of many undocumented people on campus are slim.
"The likelihood that there is an undocumented person on campus is very slim, initially if you are a student you will have DACA just because you will be able to get more assistance to pay for school. So being a sanctuary campus would mean that the school's officials would not engage with the removal procedures of any single person on their campus, which would include everyone."
Torres graduated from St. John's University in 2016 with a bachelors degree in political science. He currently works as a law clerk in Minneapolis.