Following the order, local mayors released responses to calm the qualms of residents and express their appreciation of diversity.
Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle was the first to release a statement. As a member of Cities for Action, a national group of mayors committed to engaging immigration issues at the local level, she said she was prepared to release a statement.
“Very early Thursday morning I immediately wrote my statement, had it reviewed and released it after hearing of the first executive order,” Lavelle said. “The next day I was on the radio talking about it and then this executive order was announced — I’ve heard from lots of citizens and I wanted to reassure them that Carrboro is going to be the same welcoming, accepting place that it has always been.”
Lavelle said refugees and immigrants are integral members of the United States.
“Acceptance of people from around the globe is really what the principles of our country were founded on — we are a melting pot,” Lavelle said. “We are known as the land of opportunity, and although there have been problems with our immigration policy for 40 plus years, it doesn’t mean that, in the meanwhile, we should round up everyone here who is from a different country and ship them out of the country.”
She also said Carrboro would not be the same without its refugees and immigrants.
“Many immigrants who are here are contributing, beloved, hardworking members of the Carrboro community,” Lavelle said. “We all support each other and want to work together. Local government needs to work on ways to insure the federal laws are reworked and revisited.”
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger released a statement Monday to reassure residents.
“The executive order on immigration does not reflect who we are as a community or as a nation,” Hemminger said in her statement. “It is creating a great deal of uncertainty and fear for many who live, work and learn here. To them we reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring that Chapel Hill is a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”
Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said he also chose to release a statement after reflecting upon the first week of Trump’s administration.
“We had a lot of people stopping us with concerns, with some alarm about drifting away from fact-based information on environmental issues, as well as real concerns about policies that would really impact religious freedoms and immigration status,” he said. “We wanted to say that we, as local government, are going to continue to try to represent everyone in our community and make everyone feels free to make decisions based upon diverse opinions and backgrounds.”
Flicka Bateman, director of the Carrboro Refugee Support Center, said she was disappointed by the order, but decided to stay positive.
“For me, I think refugees have already been through so much and that they are the strongest and bravest people I know,” she said. “They are resilient and I think they will make it through this.”
She said people should continue to help the local refugee and immigrant population.
“All refugees and immigrants, even not from the seven countries, are going through hardships right now,” Bateman said. “You can help by making donations to help with their groceries and rent — anything helps.”