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Granting sanctuary, not sanctifying grants

EN Photo / Jack Lowenstein

FGCU is known for taking a stand on many issues, ranging from student loans to the environmental protections.

This month, Student Government at FGCU began to take steps to help make FGCU a sanctuary school.

FGCU is the closest university to the city of Immokalee, where workers are brought in from Central America to work in the tomato fields.

Sanctuary schools are institutions of higher learning that model sanctuary cities, in the effort of not allowing the Immigration Customs Enforcement, or any federal organizations, to deport undocumented immigrants.

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As the daughter of immigrants, this is an issue close to my heart.  As a conservative, and a firm believer of the constitution, I take a much different look into the immigration issue than most.

On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump issued an executive order denying federal funding to sanctuary cities.

This order would remove federal funding given to cities for agencies, such as the local law enforcement agencies.

States are also taking their own stances on the issue and are looking to defund schools that receive money from the state and the federal government.

In the state of California, Rep. Duncan Hunter introduced a bill to stop millions of dollars that are being funneled into California schools if they decide to become sanctuary campuses.

With sanctuary cities facing budget cuts, sanctuary universities like FGCU may face the same destiny.

In the state of Florida, University of Florida and Florida State University have become sanctuary schools.

SG at both schools, which were voted in by the student body, made the ruling decisions.

These schools would face mainly a financial impact if federal money was withheld due to the amount of alumni donations. FGCU is in a different spot.

A school currently seeing its 20th anniversary, donations are a mere one fifth of what FSU received.

According to the FGCU Foundation in the year of 2015-16, FGCU received more than $33.6 million in gifts and donations.

In comparison, FSU, received $166,701,406 in 2016 according to the FSU Foundation Report.

Currently, the federal government funds research projects, student grants and campus improvements like the remodeled entrance and infrastructure.

As a student attending FGCU on a full ride made up of various student grants, I take this situation to heart. I received these grants based on my performance, as well as my financial situation.

When my parents moved to America from Venezuela and Puerto Rico, they wanted me to receive an amazing education, and with these grants I am able to receive such.

If FGCU were to lose its funding while I was still attending, I would be forced to drop out. Personally, I see losing student grant money as a slap in the face to my parents, who immigrated here legally to provide me with a great education and life.

Breaking a federal law to have FGCU seem more “humanitarian” not only disregards all the legal immigrants who attend FGCU, but those who are international students who wanted to come to FGCU and went about it legally.

The consequences FGCU may face will have a greater impact on the student population and faculty as well.

Not only would these cuts be made toward the funds for improvements, expansion and scholarships, but the already limited school will have to start turning away students from certain classes due to lack of rooms.

Ultimately, affecting graduation dates for students. There has not been any discussion about sanctuary campuses coming from Gov. Rick Scott’s office, but governors and congressmen in other states are seeking immediate action.

Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) has introduced the Federal Immigration act of 2016. Under this bill, all federal funding to any entity refusing to comply with the current immigration regulations will be withheld.

Because I’m a senior, many people think I shouldn’t care. But I do, and I do so with a passion.

My parents came to Florida,  knowing hardly anyone, in the hopes that one day their kids could have the opportunities they didn’t.

Now, their two youngest kids may face the risk of not receiving a higher education because the institutions want to cater to those who came to America legally or illegally.

I understand that many of these students didn’t come to America willingly. Yet, there are people in our community, who can get them the paperwork and legal status for them to live in America fear-free and with some benefits.

My family followed the federal and state laws to come to America, and the same should go to everyone who comes into the country.

Immigration needs to be reformed, but allowing people who are breaking the federal law a free pass and revoking the rights of natural born citizens and law-abiding citizens is far from the American way to do things.

I am in no way saying that these students do not deserve help. I am saying that becoming a sanctuary school is not the way to do so.

If FGCU wants to do something helpful and humanitarian, they should help the 60 something DACA students in receiving legal status.

Connecting with alumni who now work as legal consultants or lawyers, using the community’s resources, like the Amigos Center, would be the best solution.

The DACA students no longer fear deportation, the federal funding and grants for students remain untouched, and, of course, FGCU gets praise and wonderful PR.

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