North Texas Daily

Schools should protect their undocumented students

Schools should protect their undocumented students

Schools should protect their undocumented students
May 06
16:21 2022

Schools should be the first place a student feels at home and safe. It is supposed to be a safe haven where a student can learn, grow and be themselves. Is it not enough that students already have to deal with the fear of school shootings? Should undocumented students not only fear for their lives incase of a shooter, but also in the case that they are “found out,” and ripped away from their education? 

Undocumented or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients come to school hoping it will not be the last day they step foot on campus. There is a constant fear of seeing a cop or getting pulled over and spoken to. These students have to be very careful and cautious in their day-to-day lives.

A 2019 American Community Survey, estimates that undocumented students account for more than 427,000, or 2 percent of all students in higher education in the U.S. Students who are DACA-eligible make up 181,000, or 0.8 percent of all students in higher education.

All these students went through the same application process to get into various schools. It is arguably more difficult for them because of the extra work they have to do regarding their legal status. Nonetheless, they work hard to get into their colleges and some students are struggling to pay for school.

As always, families still sacrifice everything for their education. Knowing all of the things these students go through, it makes no sense for schools to put their safety at risk.

On March 9th, the university had its annual career fair. At the event, members of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection came to speak about their jobs. This caused outrage and fear among many undocumented students for the supposed carelessness the school had for their safety. Students were afraid to go to class for fear of being detained and were afraid to step outside of their rooms for the remainder of the fair. 

School officials said the officers on campus are not able to detain any students and are only there for the purpose of the fair. Regardless, many student coalitions were outraged such as Movimiento Unido Estudiantil Vida Eterna, Eagle Dreamers, North Texas Dream Team and Movimiento Cosecha Denton. These groups sent a detailed letter to the university with a list of demands to follow after the fair. 

Many of the demands were that the school should have been given prior notice of ICE arrival at the fair and that these officers are prohibited to detain any students. The main point of the letter was to mainly address that the agents should not be allowed or invited on campus. 

This was also not the first time ICE has been invited on campus. In 2019, ICE was invited to a criminal justice career fair which was where the initial outrage started. People petitioned to have them banned from campus but the career center approved them to attend only for the purpose of the fair. This made many students afraid to be on campus, with nothing being done to ensure their safety.

One would think that if a big population of students is uncomfortable with something on campus, the institution would listen to them. Still, they were invited again, continuing the cycle of fear. 

UNT should have taken more initiative and listened to its students. When it is a matter of safety, the university should always have open ears. These situations showed how careless the institution was and how they defended the side of harm.

The only help these students received was when student coalitions offered spaces where they could hang out and coexist without fear of being detained. The Eagle Dreamers were among the student organizations to offer a safe space for undocumented students.

It is upsetting these students can’t find comfort or empathy within their schools. In times like these, the only people looking out for them are themselves.

Featured Illustration By Erika Sevilla

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Melanie Hernandez

Melanie Hernandez

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