Six unions representing workers at the University of Washington and UW Medicine are calling on the university to take more concrete steps to protect students from deportation and attacks.
Seven unions representing about 15,000 workers at the University of Washington and UW Medicine have called on the university to take specific steps to protect undocumented students, along with Muslim students and staff, from hate-related attacks and deportation.
The unions are asking that the main university in Seattle, and branch campuses in Tacoma and Bothell, become a “sanctuary university,” which includes taking concrete steps to help those who are most likely to be subject to discrimination.
UW spokesman Norm Arkans said the university has already addressed many of the issues raised by the unions with a Nov. 17 letter from President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Jerry Baldasty. He said the “sanctuary” label won’t do much to protect students that the university isn’t already doing.
The unions’ request includes: refusing to voluntarily share information about undocumented and Muslim students and workers with federal officials; continuing to allow Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students to pay in-state tuition; providing resources for immigrant students and staff faced with urgent legal, housing, health or school needs related to anti-immigrant policy changes.
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The letter also calls on the university to refuse physical access to the campus to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials; prohibit UW Police from inquiring about, recording or reporting an individual’s immigration status or collaborating with ICE; prohibit housing discrimination based on immigration status or religion; and to voice support of international students, staff and scholars.
Cauce and Baldasty’s Nov. 17 letter lays out what the university is already doing; among other things, the UW Police do not ask questions about a student’s immigration status.
“This is the essence of what is meant by ‘sanctuary,’ ” Cauce and Baldasty wrote, “and while it is too soon to speculate on any potential changes in national policy, we will carefully monitor this issue and remain steadfast in our support of students and their right to privacy.”
The city of Seattle has also pledged to shield undocumented immigrants from a crackdown on immigration laws, and Mayor Ed Murray has used the term “sanctuary city” to describe the city’s policies, which include barring police officers from inquiring into a person’s immigration status without reasonable suspicion that the person has been previously deported and has committed a felony.
The unions that signed the letter are the American Federation of Teachers 6486, Inland Boatmen’s Union, SEIU 925, SEIU 1199NW, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1488, the Washington State Nurses Association and UAW 4121.