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‘No human being is illegal’

Sens. Kevin Schilling and Josue Zuniga explain their resolution about undocumented students in the CUB on Wednesday. 

HALEY DONWERTH and ROSEMARIE BLUME | Evergreen reporters

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An ASWSU resolution in support of undocumented students passed at the Senate meeting Wednesday, with 17 WSU community members voicing their opinions during public testimony.

“We are here today to take the stance that we are going to show … that we need to support our own students when they are threatened,” said Sen. Josue Zuniga, one of the authors of the resolution.

Resolution 46-19 passed with 14 senators voting in favor and two in opposition. During public testimony, two WSU College Republican members spoke against the resolution, while the other 15 community members spoke in support of it.

“This resolution came from rising concern about the safety of undocumented students attending WSU, and not from the outcome of the 2016 election,” said Sen. Kevin Schilling, the other author of the resolution.

WSU Young Democrats President Gavin Pielow was among those who spoke in support of the resolution, saying that “Cougs help Cougs,” is not meant to condone intolerance or a witch hunt.

Pielow spoke about the fear that undocumented students are facing because of their status and how that fear is preventing some from participating in different activities on campus.

“Just this last week, a remarkable, brilliant, diligent student had cancelled her show appearance on my KUGR [radio show] interview simply out of this very same fear,” he said.

WSU College Republicans President James Allsup spoke against the resolution, citing the potential loss of federal funding should the resolution that supports WSU becoming a sanctuary campus be passed.

“To become a sanctuary campus is to put at risk some of WSU’s most valuable students or most vulnerable students,” Allsup said. “Were WSU to become a sanctuary campus and [were we to] advertise ourselves a safe haven for criminal illegal aliens, we would be running the risk of being deemed ineligible for federal education funds.”

Allsup said because President Donald Trump’s administration “means business,” cutting off federal funding for “universities that brazenly defy federal law will be politically popular and completely constitutional.”

Mario Vega, another member of the College Republicans, also spoke in opposition to the resolution, again citing the possible loss of federal funding and stating that this resolution could hurt more than it helps.

“Why should we, the minority students who have played by the books and our parents have as well, lose our financial aid?” Vega said.

Vega is the descendant of legal U.S. immigrants and said that others should be immigrating legally as well.

“We are tempting the government right now by being unruly about this,” he said.

ASWSU presidential candidate Zachary Anders spoke during public testimony as well and said this resolution would not cause WSU to lose federal funding because it supports undocumented students.

“No human being is illegal by their status or by their skin color,” Anders said.

He said the next step is to try to pressure the Pullman City Council to become a sanctuary city.

Keyla Palominos, an undocumented student and DACA recipient, gave an appeal that immigrants came here for a better future, not as criminals.

“We are determined young people, we are not criminals,” Palominos said. “I’m not going to stand for my own classmates being in fear. I’m shaking right now. This shouldn’t even be happening.”

Palominos said she felt safe here when she first came to WSU and that she “always felt at home.”

“I felt normal for the first time in my life,” she said, “and again, I’m being proven that I’m not normal.”

ASWSU vice-presidential candidate Kai Amos said during public testimony WSU has allowed her to grow as a person, and undocumented students deserve that right, too.

“My main passion is to use my privilege to make a difference, impact and support my community,” Amos said. “So here I am today, supporting my undocumented Cougar family, and I’m using my voice and privilege to spread the word about the need to make this campus and town safe for undocumented students.”

United Greek Council President Ricardo Luna said he and the members of his organization are in support of this resolution.

“I am just ashamed that nothing’s been done yet,” Luna said.

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Before the resolution passed, senators had the opportunity to discuss, amend or table it. Just two senators, Austin Brown and Brad Hawkins, voted in opposition to the resolution.

Brown wanted to remind everyone that, while he supports all students, ASWSU must be held above their own personal values, according to their bylaws.

Sen. Garrett Kalt, who is also an ASWSU vice-presidential candidate, was in full support of the resolution.

“I’d like to applaud all students who have spoken out for undocumented students, especially those who have spoken tonight,” Kalt said. “We, WSU student leaders, advocates, students, faculty and staff must embrace diversity, not hide from it.”

In reference to the earlier remarks regarding the potential loss of federal funding, Sen. Matthew Morrow said the attempt of the government to cut federal funding would be unconstitutional because of the 10th amendment, and the fact that WSU is a state-funded institution.

“We can’t say we want to be a top 25 university in this nation if this [resolution] fails,” Sen. Savannah Rogers said. “If we do not support all students, we fail as an institution.”

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‘No human being is illegal’