Open letter from concerned law students to the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
and to the administration of UW and its sister campuses:

UW law students are privileged to be part of a greater campus community. We belong to a campus that not only hosts a wide diversity of disciplines but also a diversity of students. Our fellow students have various colors, creeds and national backgrounds. A diverse and inclusive campus strengthens our community and our education. Madison itself is built on Ho-Chunk land and, with the exception of indigenous students, all of us are from immigrant families.

As law students, we are deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s recent actions concerning U.S. immigration policy.

Last week’s executive orders raise serious constitutional questions.

Executive order impacts students, faculty, researchers on campus, forcing many to speak outStanding in front of a crowd of 200, Zahiah Hammad introduced the ways President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration Read…

The travel ban is not only contrary to existing U.S. immigration law concerning the irrelevance of an alien’s religion when seeking admission into the U.S., but also presents separation of power issues, since creating immigration law is outside the powers delegated by Congress to the executive branch. Regardless of whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection and due process clauses apply to those seeking admission into the U.S., we believe denying admission to someone based solely on their religion is contrary to constitutional values and uniquely un-American.

The travel ban also violates the U.S.’s international obligations. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, countries committed to not forcing refugees to return to the countries from which they are seeking refuge. International law also bars the U.S. from banning asylum-seekers from specific countries — something this ban effectively does for those seeking admission as refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Likewise, President Donald Trump’s attacks on sanctuary jurisdictions likely exceed the bounds of his constitutional authority. The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal funds from jurisdictions that refuse to implement immigration policy. We strongly believe denying federal grants to sanctuary jurisdictions is not only unconstitutional coercion, but it is plain bad policy. Punishing cities that value maintaining trust between local law enforcement and immigrant communities puts all citizens of that city at risk. Forcing local law enforcement to do the job of federal immigration officials will destroy trust. A potential result is immigrant communities become less likely to report crimes and become more vulnerable targets of crime. Again, this is a result that would further endanger everyone.

UW plays a special role in influencing Wisconsin policy. It is not a coincidence the state Capitol and Bascom Hall are connected by State Street. The state government and UW represent the twin pillars of the Wisconsin Idea. We now ask the university to use its institutional power to protect its students and fight back against the Trump administration’s abuse of power.

Trump executive order impacts at least 88 in UW communityUniversity of Wisconsin officials announced Monday there are 115 faculty, students and staff impacted by President Donald Trump’s executive order Read…

From the Board of Regents of the UW System, we request:

  • A resolution opposing the travel ban and expressing support for all UW System students, faculty and staff affected by the ban
  • A resolution supporting undocumented students and committing to do everything in the university’s power to protect them against future anti-immigrant policies

From UW and its sister campuses, we request:

  • Comprehensive legal support for the students, faculty and staff currently affected by the travel ban or otherwise vulnerable to anti-immigrant policies. At a minimum, such legal support should include:
    • Legal counsel and advice for members of the campus community affected by the travel ban, including those currently outside the country or facing the possibility of detainment at U.S. ports
    • Legal clinics and “know your rights” trainings available for, particularly but not exclusively, undocumented and international individuals
  • Official declaration as a “sanctuary campus”

We ask all UW campuses to commit to implementing these policies, whether or not they currently have students, faculty or staff who are affected by the executive orders.

Madison leaders call new immigration executive order unconstitutionalIn light of a recent executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump’s administration, Madison city officials have voiced their support Read…

We also recognize the term “sanctuary campus” has symbolic meaning, rather than a specific legal definition. We consider “sanctuary campus” to mean a university will not disclose the immigration status of its students, faculty or staff; that university police will not participate in immigration enforcement actions; and ICE officials may not come on campus without a warrant.

These policies are already largely implemented by UW. But we ask that all sister campuses officially adopt similar guidelines. We also ask schools to adopt the “sanctuary campus” terminology.

Sincerely,

Concerned law students at UW, including the following student groups:

Asian Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Indigenous Law Students Association, Jewish Law Students Association, Latino Law Students Association, Law and Advocacy for Racial Justice, National Lawyers Guild, Wisconsin International Law Society, QLaw