Co-authored by six members of Baylor's Graduate Theological Fellowship, the Make Baylor University a Sanctuary Campus petition acquired 1,300-plus signatures since its introduction on Feb. 6, reports Baptist News Global. The petition condemns President Trump's recent executive orders on immigration as "incompatible with Baylor's Christian commitments."
Students, alumni and faculty at more than 200 U.S. campuses launched similar petition drives asking their schools to adopt policies modeled after "sanctuary cities" that refuse to cooperate with attempts by the federal government to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.
"Baylor's profession of the Christian faith commits it to the formation of a hospitable, just, and truth-telling community, especially for the sake of its most vulnerable members, in whom Christians discern the face of Christ (Matt. 25:31-46)," the petition reads in part.
The petition asks Baylor administrators to join "with Christian and other institutions across the nation in affirming that refugees, migrants and international visitors are full and essential members of our community, whose dignity and well-being we must uphold."
Two of the authors, Thomas Breedlove and Tyler Davis, both Ph.D. students studying religion, told Baptist News they "hoped to garner support from our particular community by articulating the university's expressed Christian commitments to diversity and hospitality."
Petitioners want Baylor declared "to be a sanctuary campus that will refuse to comply with immigration investigations or deportations to the fullest extent possible, including denying access to university property" and to provide scholarships for students from seven predominantly Muslim countries identified as high risk in the White House travel ban.
According to the Baylor Lariat, university officials released a statement indicating they were aware of the petition and are working to make Baylor "a safe space" for students and scholars impacted by the executive orders.
The campus sanctuary movement began with student walkouts last fall at colleges across the country protesting Trump's immigration policies and demanding their schools protect undocumented immigrants from possible deportation.
More than 600 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the U.S. signed a letter urging continuation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that President Obama created by executive order in 2012 allowing young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally to remain in the country to study and work by registering with the federal government.
Signatories of the petition include faculty members of Baylor's religion department and George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
Baylor Young Conservatives of Texas, a student group "dedicated to the founding principles of American exceptionalism, Christian ethics and the best of Baylor tradition," issued a statement on social media opposing "any and all efforts to make Baylor University a sanctuary campus," adding, "we do not condone the actions of those who attempt to circumvent the law simply because it does not fit their ideology."