The university has hired Arelis Palacios as its new part-time coordinator for students without documentation, three weeks after student advocacy group UndocuHoyas launched a petition calling for administrators to hire a full-time coordinator for students without documentation.
Palacios, who currently serves as senior associate director of programming and advising for the Office of Global Education, will begin her new role immediately, according to an email to The Hoya from Senior Director for Strategic Communications Rachel Pugh.
Georgetown has not had a liaison for students without documentation to administrators since December 2015, when part-time liaison Cinthya Salazar left the university to pursue a doctorate degree at the University of Maryland.
The move comes as University President John J. DeGioia announced yesterday that he signed the Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students, a letter signed by 250 university presidents led by Pomona College affirming support for DACA.
UndocuHoyas partnered with the Georgetown University Student Association and Hoyas for Immigrant Rights, a student group representing immigrant students at Georgetown, to circulate the petition, which has acquired 776 signatures as of Monday.
President Barack Obama introduced DACA in 2012 to increase the number of deportation exemptions for immigrants who were brought to the country illegally before their 16th birthday. About 700,000 people have been protected from deportation as of 2016, according to The Washington Post.
DeGioia said undocumented students play a meaningful role in the Georgetown community.
“As a university located in our nation’s capital and animated by our Catholic and Jesuit identity, we are called to support all of our students, including our undocumented students,” DeGioia wrote in a statement on Facebook. “These young women and men demonstrate an extraordinary passion to make America, and our increasingly interconnected world, a better place.”
Palacios has advised students considering study abroad programs in Spain and Africa in the OGE.
Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said Palacios will lead an integral part of student life this year.
“We are very pleased that Arelis Palacios has agreed to take on this role, and know she will be a tremendous asset both to the students and to the university in the months ahead,” Olson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
College students have pushed for similar initiatives supporting students without documentation across the country, including at the University of Notre Dame, New York University and Stanford University.
These initiatives include designating universities as sanctuary campuses, in which university administrators may publically declare support for students without documentation or decline to release information on students’ immigration status. In some cases, universities may also guarantee that university police departments will not cooperate with federal deportation raids.
Students without documentation met with administrators Oct. 20 to discuss an appointment to coordinate resources for students without documentation in a meeting facilitated by GUSA, according to GUSA Vice President Chris Fisk (COL ’17).
Fisk said that Palacios’ appointment is a positive step forward.
“We’re so happy that it has come to fruition. We hope this takes Georgetown one step closer toward being a more welcoming and inclusive campus for all Hoyas,” Fisk wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Luis Gonzalez (COL ’19), a student without documentation and a member of UndocuHoyas, said Palacios’ appointment will empower students.
“I feel blessed and extremely happy that Georgetown administration moved forward with becoming a more inclusive place for everyone, regardless of citizenship status, by selecting Arelis Palacios as the point-person for undocumented students,” Gonzalez wrote in an email to The Hoya.
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