The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday December 5th

How has ICE affected the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community this year?

<p>UNC senior Rubi Franco Quiroz speaks on Sept. 18 at the DACA in Crisis event, a panel discussion comprised of lawyers, activists and students about how to support the undocumented and DACAmented community.</p>
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UNC senior Rubi Franco Quiroz speaks on Sept. 18 at the DACA in Crisis event, a panel discussion comprised of lawyers, activists and students about how to support the undocumented and DACAmented community.

In April 2018, the issue of immigration hit close to home. 

ICE detained up to 25 people in the Triangle area, some of whom were Orange County residents. Both Carrboro and Chapel Hill elected officials spoke out against the raids and said neither town's police forces were involved but were notified of the detainments when they occurred.

"We are deeply disturbed by the heightened fear and disruption to families that these raids have caused," said Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger in an April statement.

Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils told The Daily Tar Heel in April that Carrboro has been trying to build greater trust between their local immigrant communities, their local law enforcement agencies and surrounding towns for several years. ICE's actions had eroded that trust and made local communities feel less safe, Seils said.

The raids also prompted various responses from the community, including local elected officials joining more than 100 other officials across the country in signing a statement in July calling for the abolishment of ICE.

Signers included the entire Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Chapel Hill Town Council member Karen Stegman and Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin.

“ICE spends more time destroying communities than it does keeping communities safe while violating basic civil and human rights," the joint statement said. "The experiment that is ICE has failed, and must be ended as soon as possible."

UNC faculty also received guidance on the potential of ICE raids on campus in May from Ron Strauss, the executive vice provost and chief international officer for UNC. 

Recipients of the memorandum included deans, directors and department heads. The memo was approved by University leadership including the Office of University Counsel, Student Affairs and UNC Police and contained guidelines on responding to requests from government agents on information about students, faculty or staff members.

“This was an effort to be proactive just in case agents present themselves at UNC-Chapel Hill,” Strauss wrote in an email to the DTH in September. “It was not in response to any specific incident.”  

Bryan Cox, ICE’s Southern region communications director, told the DTH in September that to the best of his knowledge, no visits have been made to the University by ICE agents and none were planned at the time.

He said ICE's activity is limited on college campuses due to the Obama-era "sensitive location" policy. Strauss also said that due to the agency's broad law enforcement authority, ICE could visit UNC's campus for matters unrelated to immigration enforcement, such as investigations into human trafficking, drug trafficking and internet-based crimes.

The year 2018 also saw the anniversary of the Trump Administration's plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program  — an Obama-era executive order which protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation. 

Although former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced DACA's termination in September 2017, the program still remains in political and legal limbo. 

The U.S. Citizens Immigration Services hasn't accepted new DACA applications since October 2017, but current DREAMers can still renew their permits. Despite this, the Center for American Progress reported as of July 31, only a small percentage of DACA recipients who were up for renewal in November and December of 2018 had applied for it.

Joaquín Alfredo-Angel Rubalcaba, a UNC public policy professor, told the DTH in September that the decline may be the result of not just fear and uncertainty caused by the Trump administration, but also in fear for themselves and their parents. 

DACA recipients have to provide the government with a mass of information including where they live and a background check — information which could seem like a gamble when your family is undocumented. DREAMers must renew their permits every two years.

Since February of this year, several federal courts handed down rulings which blocked DACA's termination and ordered the United States Citizens Immigration Services to continue accepting renewals. After eight states sued the federal government claiming DACA to be unconstitutional, a federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of DACA when it declined to issue an injunction in late August 2018. 

This year's continued uncertainty regarding DACA has left many DREAMers wondering about not only their own future but their family's.

“I had a family friend whose dad got taken away by ICE while on his way to work, so it's things like that that scare me,” DACA recipient Gomez Olvera told the DTH in September. “I try not to think about it, I try to focus on my studies, but it's hard when those things are happening.”


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