Mexico universities cancel exchange program with Arizona

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The National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, has decided to cancel an academic exchange program with the University of Arizona, or UA, over the state’s new illegal immigration law. The autonomous university in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi also canceled an exchange program with UA because of concerns that Mexican students may be harassed under the new law.

UNAM Rector Jose Narro Robles notified UA President Robert Shelton this week of the decision to suspend the program with the Tucson, Ariz., campus. Shelton replied in a letter expressing disappointment in the UNAM decision, calling the law ‘poorly conceived.’


‘I am deeply saddened by this turn of events, but completely sympathetic to your sentiments,’ Shelton wrote Narro Robles, according to a copy of the letter the university made available to La Plaza. ‘Along with you, we believe that our legislature has reached too far in this matter, and we are gravely concerned about the potential impact on critical international relationships such as yours.’

About 200 Mexican students study at UA, reports the Arizona Republic. UNAM’s Robles -- who oversees a university with more than 300,000 students, making it one of the world’s largest -- had been sharply critical of the bill before Gov. Jan Brewer signed it last month.

UNAM officials said students affected by the decision to cancel the program with UA would be distributed either to Stanford University in Northern California or Kingston College in England.

On Thursday, a coalition of civil rights organizations in the United States announced a boycott of Arizona after Brewer signed the law, which would allow local police officers to ask for documents of anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City