The University of Maryland is taking new steps to coordinate services for undocumented immigrants who are enrolled at College Park.
Officials at U-Md. and many other colleges and universities have repeatedly expressed solidarity with these students since the presidential election. President Trump took a hard line against illegal immigration during his campaign, but he has recently suggested that he hopes to work out a solution for some who were young children when they arrived in the United States.
This week, U-Md. said it will assign a person on its staff to coordinate services for undocumented students as part of an “ongoing commitment” to them. University spokeswoman Katie Lawson said that the coordinator will “address the immediate needs” of those students and that “we will continue to assess the need for staff support moving forward.”
Lawson said the university is also forming a working group to focus on undocumented students, drawing on expertise from various corners of the campus community.
U-Md. is not the only school to take such actions. Georgetown University last fall appointed a part-time adviser to serve undocumented students.
Exactly how many undocumented students are at the 38,000-student university is unclear. The university has said that it has a little more than 100 students who qualified for a federal program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects certain immigrants from deportation if they arrived before their 16th birthday.
The Diamondback, a student newspaper, reported the news about the coordinator Monday.
The developments come after ProtectUMD, a coalition of student groups, developed a list of demands addressing issues that marginalized students face. Included on that list, according to the Diamondback, was a call for an undocumented-student coordinator.
“Applying to a state institution can be difficult for undocumented students,” said Erica Fuentes, 22, president of the student organization Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society. “A lot of times college applications require students to disclose personal information about themselves, oftentimes [asking] residency questions and things like that.”
Fuentes said a coordinator could help students with that process and with various other legal issues. But there is more to do than paperwork.
A coordinator could give “emotional counsel and support as well,” Fuentes said. “Undocumented students face a lot of issues because they’re balancing going to school, oftentimes paying their tuition entirely out of pocket because they don’t qualify for financial aid.”
As a presidential candidate, Trump made undocumented immigrants a central part of his campaign, often stirring crowds at rallies with heated rhetoric. He promised to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and to hire thousands of new border agents to deport those who are in the country illegally, particularly if they have criminal records.
Since Trump took office, immigrant communities across the country have been shaken by hundreds of arrests.