New student organization seeks to bring justice for DACA


Information about SB4 was handed out to attendees.

In an effort to carve out support for those on campus who are undocumented, a new student organization by the name of Monarchs on the Hilltop has emerged.

 The organization’s first meeting was held last week, amidst the looming deadline for DACA applications on Oct. 5 and weeks into the enactment of S.B. 4, or the “sanctuary cities” bill.

 Junior Joseph Ramirez, who helped found the organization, said monarchs are in the title since the butterflies “travel from Mexico to the U.S. without any limitations on borders. It’s become a really strong symbol for the immigrant community.”

 Concerned about the wider undocumented community besides those with ties to Mexico, members discussed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama era policy to protect young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. President Trump announced last month plans to phase out the program, and those who are eligible to apply will be the last DACA recipients.

 “Please be assured the university is closely monitoring this issue as it unfolds,” President George E. Martin said days following Trump’s announcement. “We fully support the continuation of the DACA program and a path to citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and are pursuing their education and careers as positive, productive contributors to American society.”

Following the 2016 election when concerns of deportation spiked for the undocumented community in the U.S., Martin also signed a statement with other Catholic college leaders pronouncing solidarity with undocumented students.

Some at the meeting said they don’t think these actions have been enough, noting that the President of the University of Texas at Austin Gregory Fenves released a statement regarding DACA the same day as Trump’s announcement.

The group also expressed critical sentiment of S.B. 4, a Texas state law slated to go into effect Sept. 1, until many of its provisions were blocked by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia. Still, a portion of the legislation that allows law enforcement officials to ask about one’s immigration status at routine traffic stops has been implemented by reversals from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ramirez plans to establish an emergency fund for those in need of legal aid and other resources. The desired amount for the fund is $3,000, which Ramirez hopes to reach through on campus fundraising and donations.

Professor Genaro Lopez is involved in Monarchs out of personal interest. “It’s so unfair that you should be sent back,” Lopez said in regards to DACA recipients. “In order to make it fair and in order to make it just, we have to work.”

Serving as an informal liaison between faculty and students, Lopez answered the group’s questions about faculty training for situations involving undocumented students.

The group wanted to know if faculty had received instruction about how to respond if an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officer came looking for a student.

Lopez said the Natural Science Department was told at their first staff meeting before the semester started to direct Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents to the University Police Department, even if they had a warrant.

To become informed about such happenings at their monthly meetings is a central aspect of Monarchs on the Hilltop.

“One of the biggest reasons we’re having an organization for undocumented students is for the purpose of applying pressure on the administration, applying that pressure on President Martin,” Ramirez said of the university president. “Because if we don’t say anything, he’s going to continue being passive. The whole university will become passive.”