Dear faculty, staff and students,
Today Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the administration was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He provided Congress six months to enact legislation that would reform immigration. At Western New Mexico University we have a number of DACA students who are worried about what happens next.
As president of this university my job is to provide leadership that promotes our university, positions it for the future, and ensures a quality education for all who pass through our doors. Over thirty years ago I decided to become an educator. I did so because through education I, along with thousands of others, can change the world for the better.
I did not go into education because I wished to be an extension of immigration enforcement. I went into education simply to teach whomever I could without care for their immigration status, their ethnicity, their gender, or any other attribute associated with various classes of people. This leads me to the purpose of this letter. To any student of ours I say to you that you are welcome here. You need not fear persecution from us. We will continue to educate you as best as we can. We may have to make some modification given the changing law, but if you are in my classroom or any other classroom on this campus, I am concerned about only one thing: your education. I will do all I can legally do to make sure you continue to get the best education that we can provide.
To our university community, no matter your political point of view, I encourage you to provide compassion. Our country has been made great on the backs of immigrants. Our country has been made great because we have a democratic process that is geared toward protecting the minority voice no matter how quiet it sounds. In the next six months, no matter which side of the argument you fall, let’s allow the democratic process to prevail. Our Congress has an opportunity to do its elected duty and represent the voices of America and render through legislation the solution to the immigration issue. Each of you also has an opportunity to express in your own ways your beliefs on this important issue. And I ask only two things of you – respect for the variety of opinions that will come forth on this topic and show compassion for each other.
These are not easy times, but we as a nation will persevere. I am proud to be an American. I am proud to be a Mustang. And I am proud to be an educator of all who wish to enhance their lives and those lives around them.
President Joseph Shepard