SAN ANTONIO -- Foreign-born students at UTSA fear they may be caught in a tense tug of war between the school and state government.
It’s a debate over their citizenship, security, and privacy which prompted a recent petition drive to make UTSA a so-called "sanctuary campus."
A sanctuary campus is loosely defined as a campus that won't release a student's immigration status to the federal government.
Catherine Nolan-Ferrell, an Associate Professor of Latin American History at UTSA helped write that petition to Dr. Romo and UT system chancellor William McRaven.
She told KENS 5 some students didn’t feel safe on campus with the uncertainty of DACA's future.
DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a 2012 Obama administration policy allowing certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors to avoid deportation while in school.
UTSA has the second largest DACA student population in the nation.
"I'd prepare for the worst but Hope for the best. I think that’s probably the best strategy right now," said Immigration Attorney and Partner at DMCA, LLP, Lance Curtright.
In a private meeting with DACA students, UTSA President Dr. Ricardo Romo did not declare the university a sanctuary campus, but reaffirmed the university's commitment to keep DACA students' confidential information sealed.
Dr. Romo told UTSA Today in part, "Our mission as a university is to foster a safe and welcoming environment in which students can achieve educational excellence and prepare themselves to contribute meaningfully to society."
Some students still question their future.
"Trump has said, and I think people should know that, that he wants to rescind the program. He also said recently his number one priority are people with criminal convictions," Curtright said.
On December 11, DACA students, also known as 'DREAMers' and supporting staff met with legal experts to learn what could be next.
"What do I tell districts as I'm starting to look for jobs?" asked a DREAMer.
"What resources do we have to share with these families?" a fourth grade school teacher asked the panel of experts.
Curtright said even if the Trump administration does stop DACA, that doesn’t mean deportation is imminent.
"It doesn't mean that there's going to be ICE troopers storming down UTSA campus. That would be I heard of in American history," said Curtright. "No one can be deported without due process of law, and we still have that so long as we have a Constitution."
Experts encourage DACA students to look for ways to become permanent residents, but note that some countries have a 20-year-plus waiting period. Curtright also suggested DACA students host a 'Know Your Rights' presentation with their universities to stay informed.
In the meantime, the students at risk of deportation said they’ll continue to fight.
"My dreams are only to provide more for our future students and our future as citizens of this country," said Narda Martinez, a Dreamer and Co-Coordinator of the Immigrant Youth Leadership Organization at UTSA.
"DACA does not define us. With or without DACA, our community is vital in this society in the US," said Carlos Aguilar, a Dreamer and Coordinator of the Immigrant Youth Leadership Organization at UTSA.
Dr. Romo also told students UTSA acts in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, in which students' private information is already protected.
Experts said we won't officially know the next steps for DACA until the Trump administration takes over.
"Just because immigration comes and says, 'We want to put you in a deportation proceeding,' doesn't mean you'll ultimately be deported," said Curtright. "So we always tell [immigrants], don't sign anything. Call your lawyer right away and we will work with them."
For more information on the legal services of DMCA LLP, visit http://www.dmcausa.com/.