Student Government debates Secure Communities policy

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Lizeth Urdiales, finance and Mexican American studies sophomore, speaks Tuesday night about issues with Travis County’s Secure Communities policy.

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

After entering into its first debate of the school year, the Student Government passed a resolution voicing its opposition to Travis County’s Secure Communities policy in a 24-8 vote at a meeting Tuesday.

According to the resolution, which cites the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Secure Communities” is a program implemented to remove unauthorized immigrants who are convicted of an especially violent crime. The resolution also states 82 percent of the people convicted and deported in Travis County under Secure Communities are nonviolent.

The resolution argues that students who are undocumented or who have undocumented parents are limited on campus because they or their family are at risk for detainment if they make any law violation.

“It kind of scares me — not knowing about it now — because I had my parents over on Sunday because it was my birthday yesterday,” said Jonathan Zapeta, an undeclared freshman whose parents are undocumented. “If I had previously known that them getting a minor infraction could have led to a deportation, I would have told them to just stay away.”

At the meeting, representatives from the League of United Latin American Citizens’ UT chapter and other students affected by the Secure Community policy voiced their support for the SG resolution.

“It is also good for everyone to understand the issues that face the Latin American community both in terms of their safety and their perceptions of safety,” said Christian Umbria Smith, LULAC vice president and a government and sociology senior. 

Lizeth Urdiales, international relations and global studies sophomore and one of the resolution’s authors, said she attends the University through the U.S. government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which she said limits her student experience.  

“I do not partake in partying or anything else unless I am a designated driver because if I am caught drinking — despite the fact that I have a Social Security number and a work permit — it can be removed,” Urdiales said. 

Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative and one of the resolution’s authors, said the resolution has been altered drastically since it was first submitted to SG. After discussing grammatical errors in-depth, the assembly voted to open the floor to debate.

The major topic of debate was the wording of a statement that suggested UT students had been deported under the policy, although there are no records indicating this.

“I haven’t been able to find anything regarding the deportation of anyone associated with UT,” said Edward Banner, Cockrell School of Engineering
representative.

Cavazos said the authors kept the word “deportation” in the resolution because the policy does deport some members of the community and could possibly result in the deportation of UT students.

The assembly changed the wording to “detainment and/or possible deportation.”

SG will send the resolution to the Travis County Commissioners Court for consideration.