A group of University of New Mexico students say university officials asked them to stop protesting the presence of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a university career fair on Tuesday.
The students said the university disrespected their right to protest and created a hostile environment for undocumented students and their families. University officials say they want to hear what students have to say, but there’s a correct way to protest and it’s not in the middle of a university-hosted career fair. They asked the protesters to continue outside of the Student Union Building ballrooms where the career fair was underway.
Three students with the UNM chapter of NM Dream Team, a student organization that supports undocumented immigrants and their families, held up signs saying, “border patrol out of UNM” among other statements protesting the federal agency’s presence on campus on Tuesday. The federal agency that patrols American borders was one of 90-plus employers at the career fair.
Estefany González Mendoza, 21, one of the protesters and a senior studying psychology and Spanish, said she the border patrol’s presence can be threatening to undocumented students and can trigger memories of previous traumas.
“It brought up a lot of anxiety for students who are undocumented,” González Mendoza said. “Students shouldn’t have to be scared to come on campus because border patrol is there.”
Jenna Crabb, the director of the university’s career services department and the interim dean of students, said the intention never was to offend or make students uncomfortable. Rather, the goal was to offer students the chance to interact with a wide range of employers, including the Albuquerque Public Schools, the CIA and Comcast among others.
Crabb said she did ask the students to take the protest outside of the ballrooms where the career fair was taking place, but she didn’t ask them to stop protesting all together.