SGA fails to pass resolution supporting Dreamers

Nicole Ziege

After heavy debate, the Student Government Association failed to pass a resolution supporting a “clean” D.R.E.A.M. Act during its senate meeting Tuesday.

Resolution 2-17-F supported the “endorsement of a clean” D.R.E.A.M. Act by the Congress of the United States. This comes after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided “temporary protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of young people who were brought to the United States as children”, was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017, according to Resolution 2-17-F.

“The rescinding of DACA runs contrary to our ideals as Americans,” Bowling Green junior Francisco Serrano, author of the resolution, said in favor of the resolution.

Serrano said rather than speaking for those affected by the rescinding of DACA, he wanted to tell the Senate about his family’s story of immigration. Serrano said his father escaped the war in El Salvador in 1989, and his mother followed in 1993. He described his family as coming from “humble beginnings.”

“People don’t flee to this great country to disrespect our laws,” Serrano said.

The clean D.R.E.A.M. Act would “allow for the adjustment of status of many of our current and past students,” referred to as “Dreamers” in the D.R.E.A.M. Act, “who may otherwise be without immigration status and at threat for removal from the school, and the country, if Congress fails to act within six months from the date DACA was rescinded,” according to Resolution 2-17-F.

Resolution 2-17-F states a “clean” D.R.E.A.M. Act is “necessary” for these young people to “obtain a more permanent immigration status.” The new version of the D.R.E.A.M. Act would include “the parents and families of students so they may adjust their status.”

Upon further clarification, Serrano said only immediate family members would be included, including siblings and parents of the student.

“This is necessary because keeping students’ families together assures their academic success,” according to Resolution 2-17-F.

Serrano said a “significant number” of students are affected by DACA on campus.

Director of academic and student affairs Emily Houston said WKU is considered “one of the best schools in the area” for undocumented students and other states, like Tennessee often “send their undocumented students here.”

SGA President Andi Dahmer said students who are undocumented “often don’t report” if they are protected under DACA.

“Your constituents are among those protected by DACA,” Legislative Research Committee Chair Lillian Nellans said in favor of the resolution. “We need to do something for these students, and we need to do it now. This sends a message to those students that we are a tolerant campus and that we accept all students.”

Senator Alex Sergent opposed the resolution. He said he did not think the resolution represented SGA’s role on campus.

“As a university, it is not our place to put our political hat in a ring,” Sergent said.

Public Relations Committee Chair William Hurst said that while he is “in support of DACA,” he did not think that “it is this university’s decision to make federal government decisions.”

Senator Mark Clark said the resolution isn’t referring to criminals.

“We cannot reduce them to objects,” he said. “People’s livelihoods are at stake here.”

Sergent said the Senate needed to “come to a compromise.” He said the debate over passing Resolution 2-17-F was becoming a “battle of rhetoric.”

“If we are to represent all students, then we need to hear both sides of the argument,” Sergent said. “It is important to support this as Americans in our personal beliefs, but we represent the students of the university, and not all of the students agree with this.”

Nellans disagreed with Sergent. She said saying the Senate is “not supposed to vote with what 51 percent of students feel on everything.”

“We’re supposed to vote for what’s best for our constituents, which oftentimes means protecting marginalized minority communities,” Nellans said.

Hurst said passing the resolution would be a “political statement.”

“We serve the majority,” Hurst said. “We don’t know if the majority approves of this resolution.”

With 12 votes in favor of the resolution and 17 opposed, Resolution 2-17-F failed to reach a majority and was not passed.

After the meeting, Dahmer said the Senate doesn’t just vote for the majority, and that statement is “incorrect.”

“It’s important that senators realize that they were chosen to represent all of their constituents,” Dahmer said. “The Dreamers on this campus deserve to be on this campus as well as this country as much as any other student here.”

A previous edition of this story quoted Francisco Serrano as saying “The rescinding of the D.R.E.A.M. Act runs contrary to our ideals as Americans.” Serrano actually said “The rescinding of DACA runs contrary to our ideals as Americans.” The Herald regrets the error.

Reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].