Baylor University’s Student Senate urged administrators Thursday to come out in favor of legislation creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in college or in the military.
After a spirited debate lasting more than an hour, the senate voted 25-20 in favor of the measure, dubbed “Taking a stand on DREAM,” a reference to the federal DREAM Act.
Its authors, Malcolm Ladines and Cody Brasher, argued their bill pushes administrators to signal the school’s support of the illegal immigrants it already admits as students.
Summing up that sentiment, student Nick Pokorny said current immigration policy punishes children for the crimes of their parents.
“I know an illegal immigrant who goes to Baylor,” Pokorny said. “You would never know they were an illegal immigrant, and it’s not their fault they’re here. Their parents dragged them across the border with them.”
But opponents of the bill argued it was too political and said its proponents should have taken steps to make sure the campus was largely supportive of the measure.
They tried unsuccessfully to postpone the vote on the bill and to soften its language.
Connor Mighell, a freshman, said the administration shouldn’t be asked to support the DREAM Act because the legislation would provide an incentive for people come to the U.S. illegally.
The legislation, Mighell said, “rewards and encourages illegal behavior.”
Randall Hollomon said adopting a pro-DREAM Act stance could stifle fundraising efforts.
“At Baylor, there are a lot of constituencies we have to keep happy at the same time in order to keep a steady stream of donations coming in,” said Hollomon, a senior.
“A lot of former Baylor graduates — especially those who are in position to donate money to Baylor, and large chunks of money to Baylor — would, in fact, by their nature be opposed to the DREAM Act,” he said.
Alex Gray, a bill supporter, pointed to Baylor’s Baptist heritage to argue on behalf of the DREAM Act measure.
“Give me the place in the Bible — yeah, I’m going there — that says, ‘Thou shalt have these things unless you’re not a member of this group, or unless you’re not a citizen of this country,’ ” Gray said.
After more than an hour, both sides of the debate seemed to agree on at least one point — that Internal Vice President Michael Lyssy deserved the right to take a seat after standing throughout the protracted back-and-forth.
“To increase the civility of the debate, and the comfort of the chair, I motion the chair is allowed to sit the remainder of the debate,” Gray said, referencing Lyssy.
After some laughter, Lyssy noted the senate’s rules already give him the right to sit, but he simply preferred not to exercise it.
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