UVA Illegal Immigrant Group Demands ‘Xenophobes’ Be Barred From Student Government

Blake Neff | Reporter

A conservative member of the University of Virginia’s (UVA) student government is being targeted for impeachment after he helped block university recognition of an illegal immigrant group, and then proceeded to use the term “illegal immigrants” on Facebook.

DREAMers on Grounds is already an active group at UVA, but is currently unrecognized.

Last week, it made an effort to change that, petitioning UVA’s Student Council to receive contracted independent organization (CIO) status, which would allow it to book space on campus and petition to receive school funds.

But the vote didn’t go well. Out of 12 members of the council, six voted to approve CIO status, and six abstained, which under council rules meant the petition was rejected.

DREAMers took the result badly. On Sunday, the group created a lengthy petition denouncing the vote and demanding that UVA intervene to purge the student government of any “xenophobes” who stand against them.

A particular focus of the group’s ire is UVA law student Erich Reimer, one of the abstaining student council members. Shortly after the CIO petition failed, Reimer made a Facebook post touting the failure as a victory.

“UVA Student Council news: bill approving a student group to support illegal immigrants at UVA has been defeated! #conservative,” Reimer wrote. In their petition, DREAMers argues that Reimer’s post signaled that he allowed his partisan political beliefs to affect his vote on the student council. The group also condemned Reimer’s language as offensive.

“Even though the post was removed the next day, the harm had already been done; offensive terms such as ‘illegal’ was [sic] used and he made it clear that StudCo was not to be trusted. The feeling that DREAMers were unwelcome was already being felt,” the petition says.

Despite receiving a private apology from Reimer (who took down the post shortly after it went up), DREAMers says it was too little, too late, and they demand that he both issue a second, more public apology and that he immediately be dismissed from student government.

Reimer told Campus Reform that, although he is a political conservative, his vote on the CIO petition was not based on his political beliefs. Instead, he said he was concerned that sponsoring an illegal immigrant group would amount to diverting school resources to the open defiance of federal law.

But DREAMers doesn’t just want Reimer’s head to roll. In the petition, they demand UVA create a special tribunal for the purpose of investigating student government and eliminating those with views deemed unacceptable.

While UVA already has an ethics board for handling complaints about student government, DREAMers demands this board be ignored, because “they failed us in this process.” The group says the UVA administration should create an ad-hoc committee, empowered to “scrub for xenophobic representatives who have been placed in office.”

The petition also demands that the student council formally apologize for the CIO petition’s failure.

The student council, for its part, seems eager to oblige, issuing a statement denouncing Reimer and assuring DREAMers that it had already changed its bylaws to allow a revote on the matter more quickly than would otherwise be allowed.

“The DREAMers on Grounds organization’s approval bill failed to pass, but it was not voted down. There was not a single vote cast against approving DREAMers as a CIO,” the statement says. “We apologize for the pain that this failure has caused to a group of students already marginalized by other institutions, and we are looking forward to working with DREAMers in the coming year. Let this not divide us but rather unite us towards a common goal: a more inclusive, more diverse, and more welcoming University. Please show your support at the revote on Tuesday, March 29.”

The student council released another statement Monday, which was released jointly with DREAMers. Despite DREAMers’ earlier complaint that the Student Council should not be a partisan political body, the new joint statement is extremely political, with the student council openly endorsing amnesty for all illegal immigrants.

“The fact that immigration has been poorly handled by the government is apparent to everyone,” the new statement says. “Large numbers of people have been forced to leave their home country because of the inhumane and dangerous living conditions in their countries. They flee countless struggles only to endure different kinds of struggles elsewhere­ rejection and constant belittlement. The much­needed and non­existent amnesty has caused many problems; however, the introduction of the DREAM Act a couple of years ago was promising. But when it failed to pass, those undocumented students were denied higher education and their supporters claimed the name of DREAMers.”

The statement again invites everybody to attend the Tuesday night revote, where it is implied a more correct voting outcome will occur.

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