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Smatresk, students respond to Trump’s executive order on immigration

Smatresk, students respond to Trump’s executive order on immigration

Denton, Texas 01/31/2017 Townhall panel talking to UNT students about immigration. The Townhall allowed students to adress concerns with DACA as well as the presidential executive order banning the entrance of people from seven countries. Jennyfer Rodriguez

Smatresk, students respond to Trump’s executive order on immigration
February 02
14:19 2017

Following protests calling for UNT to become a sanctuary campus for undocumented students, UNT President Neal Smatresk called for a town hall meeting to discuss resources the university already has in place for them.

But after President Trump’s ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, the meeting turned to focus on the students with visa status who could be affected by the travel-ban.

“We are sorting through our understanding about this,” Smatresk said. “We strongly urge the 50 students [affected] here to not travel, or discuss [their status] with our legal office. They can help you with your current visa status.”

About 300 people packed a University Union ballroom for the event, moderated by Joanne Woodard, UNT’s vice president for institutional equity and diversity. She was joined on stage by Smatresk, UNT police chief Ed Reynolds and UNT alumnus John Ting of Dallas-based law firm Ting and Tran.

Ting criticized Trump’s executive order calling for the travel-ban. He said it was vague and gave no notice, something Obama did when he banned travel from Iraq during his presidency. Ting also read through some bills in the Texas Congress that if passed could compel local authorities to release information about undocumented students.

DACA and immigrant students

Reynolds assured that UNT police do not hold any records on residential status and do not share that information. Additionally UNT police would only cooperate with federal authorities only in the event of potential terrorist activity on the campus, or unless “specifically asked to by the law.”

“We don’t ask people about their citizenship, even if they are arrested,” Reynolds said. “We don’t keep these records, even if the feds asked us. It would have to go through a court order and go through the university.”

UNT students sit inside the University Union to attend a townhall meeting. The Townhall allowed students to adress issues with DACA and the resent immigration ban executive order. Jennyfer Rodriguez

But UNT students allowed to pursue their degree under Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy remain afraid of deportation under the new administration. One student stepped to the microphone to ask Smatresk what UNT would do to fight back and be the “speaker of the unspoken.”

“We don’t know what will happen, if DACA will or will not be replaced,” Smatresk said. “It’s hard to react to, we don’t know the threat or what to predict. DACA is a strength, not a weakness. I favor DACA.”

Smatresk emphasized his position disallows him to lobby on behalf of any public policy, as he is the president of a public institution. He said he is allowed to share information and offer his opinion as an educator, and said he personally signed a letter of protest to congress on the potential repeal of DACA.

“We don’t want you to be worried, we don’t want you to be afraid,” Smatresk said. “I believe we are doing what virtually every other university has done.”

He added he would like to see a “crisp, clear path to citizenship” for immigrants and will speak up for DACA students on a personal level.

“I will testify to anyone who asks,” he said.

But students participating in the discussion felt the president wasn’t doing enough. Many felt frustrated at the meeting and interrupted the regular flow of it to demand Smatresk answer their questions.

White supremacist fliers

Beginning this week fliers appeared in various university buildings espousing white supremacist beliefs. Photos of the fliers on Twitter warned students not to tear them down as the groups behind them tended to place razor blades on the underside.

UNT administrators condemned the actions and reminded students there is a system in place to post fliers on campus. Because whoever put the fliers there did not go through the proper procedure, Vice President for Student Affairs Elizabeth With said they would be taken down.

“I deplore these posters,” Smatresk said. “It’s not something we tolerate or accept on campus. Posts that do not have approval will be removed. And let me just say what a shabby cheap trick it was.”

Featured Image: Townhall panel talking to UNT students about immigration. The Townhall allowed students to adress concerns with DACA as well as the presidential executive order banning the entrance of people from seven countries. Jennyfer Rodriguez

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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  1. North Texas
    North Texas February 03, 12:50

    If you’re going to remove the response posts because you deem them offensive or whatever you should at least have the guts to also remove the editorial for the same reason. By not doing so you are making a value determination that somehow Mr. Adalberto’s offensive speech is more valuable than any other person’s speech. Do you feel you have the right to make that judgement? Wanna talk about it?

    Reply to this comment
    • North Texas Daily
      North Texas Daily February 04, 23:40

      Sure let’s talk about it.
      No response posts have been removed, comments are manually approved on the website to filter out spam because many of it seeps through even with an automated filter. All posts, as long as they abide by our policies on profanity and are not libelous or inappropriate are posted.

      If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to do so.

      Reply to this comment

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