A group of undocumented immigrants at Columbia University in New York City is demanding concessions from their Ivy League school.
The group, known as the Undocumented Students Initiative or “UndoCU,” released a list of 13 demands last week that include things like increased protection from federal authorities who might want to deport them, subsidized summer housing, “full reimbursement” of health care fees, specialized fundraising, counseling and sensitivity training for all Columbia faculty, along with other demands.
“We refuse to amend or change any of these demands,” the group wrote in a Facebook post last week. “[W]e expect the university to act.”
To begin, the group demands clarification in the university’s policies toward its undocumented students, should they have their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA status revoked.
“How will the university help us cope with our legal working rights being taken away? How will the university help with our inability to pay tuition or housing?” the group wrote. “In all possible senses, how will the university provide the proper support that will allow us to thrive as students and contributing members of our university community?”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was initiated by former President Barack Obama, allows young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to receive work permits and “deferred” deportation status renewable every two years. President Donald Trump as a candidate threatened to end the program, but it remains active more than four months into his presidency. Since Trump’s election, he has indicated that he is open to allowing some DACA recipients to stay in the country.
Concerning health care fees, Campus Reform notes that like almost every American college, Columbia requires its students to have health insurance or pay a fee to get insurance through the school. The undocumented students, however, are not happy they have to pay the fee.
“We also demand full reimbursement of the health insurance fees,” the group wrote, adding the school “refunded portions of these fees, but the calculations are inaccurate and leaves graduating students with exorbitant amounts of account balances which potentially hinders their request for academic transcripts and degrees.”
The group also explained they want the university to protect them from federal immigration authorities.
“How can administration contact and keep in touch with undocumented students without a record of students that the administration may be in the future be forced to relinquish to federal authorities?” they wrote.
In the long list, the undocumented students also demand they be designated by the school as domestic students because “classifying us as international students puts us at risk of having our information exposed to Homeland Security,” they demand the university create a liaison as a go-between for their group and the school administration, as well as “specialized fundraising for undocumented students.”
“We want the university as a whole and individual schools to raise funding to specifically support undocumented students in both undergrad and grad schools with the objective of creating undocumented student specific scholarships and grants,” the group wrote. “Need based funding must be available for undocumented students at all Columbia University and affiliate schools.”
Other demands include counselors that are educated and experienced in immigration and sensitivity training for all campus faculty.
“Much like sexual health training, it is imperative that immigration subjects be treated with the proper language and information,” the group explained. “It is unacceptable for students to be called ‘illegal’ in their own classrooms or for professors to tell us to ‘get legal.’”
It must be noted that the list of demands comes as the majority of undocumented students attending Columbia likely already attend the school with their tuition and room and board being paid for. That’s because, like other Ivy League schools, Columbia allows students whose families earn a relatively low-level income to attend for practically nothing.
The undocumented student group was created last year around the time that Trump won November’s presidential election.
The list of demands may seem surprising, but in 2017 predominantly liberal and progressive students across the nation are feeling emboldened to demand concessions and changes from their administrations.
Just recently, Columbia and fellow Ivy League school Harvard University held segregated commencement ceremonies, despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled six decades ago that “separate but equal,” is, in fact, not equal.
In addition, students at Evergreen State University in Washington state recently demanded the resignation of a professor because he refused to leave campus over his white skin color.
A Columbia spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment from TheBlaze.
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