Students protest for sanctuary campus

A students carries a sign stating “undocumented Unafraid.”

Students who fear deportation as a result of their immigration status, along with their supporters, staged a walkout and gathered on the Todd Hall steps today in a demonstration to urge WSU to become a sanctuary campus.

Keyla Palominos, one of the coordinators of the walkout, called for the university to prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel from targeting students at WSU or any of its branch campuses.

Palominos shared the story of her experience coming to America without documentation.

“My mother left me in Mexico when I was about two years old and lived with my grandma,” she said. “I crossed the border when I finished kindergarten and got to finally be in the embrace of my mom right before starting first grade.”

Palominos and other students shared stories of leaving Mexico as young children and coming to the U.S. to attend school and struggle due to language barriers while also having to work alongside their parents.

“My senior year of high school I woke up at 6 a.m. and went to school and then went to leadership clubs and scholarship committees,” Palominos said. “I even had to work with my parents in the apple fields and wouldn’t get home till 11 p.m. every night just so I could hope to afford college.”

Palominos and about a dozen other demonstrators said they do not feel safe at WSU following the results of the presidential election.

“Myself and other undocumented students have gotten a lot of weird looks and scowls from other students that know we are undocumented,” Palominos said. “If the university becomes a sanctuary campus, then we can feel safe again.”

Sophomore Maria Yepez’s testimony included her experience coming here when she was nine years old.

“I came here and started fourth grade not knowing a word of English,” she said. “I was bullied because of it and I struggled to get where I am today.”

Students who are American citizens already supported their fellow students during the protest. Sophomore Michael Young was one of those who stood in solidarity with the demonstrators during the walkout.

“My best friend Jose is an undocumented immigrant back home in Colorado,” he said. “It hurts me that my friend can’t afford to go to college due to his immigration status.”

As students and community members spoke, three students not involved with the demonstration voiced disagreement with the idea of WSU becoming a sanctuary campus.

“Why the hell would you want a sanctuary campus,” WSU student Mario J. Vega said. “We’ll lose all our federal funding because of you illegal immigrants.”

Protesters marched from Todd to the French Administration Building chanting: “Show me what America looks like,” “We are what America looks like,” and “No justice, no peace, no ICE with police.”

Palominos, Yepez and other demonstrators went to the Office of the President to drop off letters explaining their stories and experiences. President Kirk Schulz was not present. However, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs Melynda Huskey accepted the letters and plans on giving them to the president.

“I will personally make sure President Schulz receives these,” she said to them. “I am here if any of you need to talk.”

This article has been revised to clarify the nature of some language used to criticize the demonstration.