UNC president calls on Trump to support immigrant students

February 23, 2017

University of North Carolina President Margaret Spellings is urging the Trump administration not to ensnare young students who came to the U.S. illegally as children in its effort to clamp down on immigration.

In an opinion piece published Tuesday in The Washington Post, Spellings said recent executive orders expanding the scope of deportations have scared numerous UNC students who are part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started by former President Barack Obama that allows undocumented people brought to the U.S. as children to study and work in the country without fear of deportation.

“Thousands of DACA students are working toward degrees, striving to become the teachers, nurses, business owners and good neighbors our country needs,” Spellings wrote. “Now, with immigration policy thrown into disarray, these students are paralyzed, uncertain whether they can safely continue their studies.”

In addition to citing her conversations with a woman whose parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 6 now studying for a career in public health, Spellings noted her own experience of trying to make a home in Texas when her parents moved her family there when she was 7.

“These young people were brought to the United States as children, carried along through no decision of their own. They have grown up American – studying and learning in our public schools, celebrating our national holidays, becoming a part of our communities. They’ve made a lifetime of friends and memories here. This is the only home most of them can remember,” she wrote.

“The lives and dreams of these students were never meant to be a political statement – they just want the chance to live honestly in the only home they’ve ever known,” she continued. “These are our children, raised in our cities and towns and taught in our public schools. They share our hopes and dreams for a better America. Their faith in this country is a blessing, if we have the grace to accept it.”