Local News

'This is my home': Hundreds call on UNC to help protect undocumented immigrants

Posted September 18, 2017 10:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— The future of hundreds of thousands of people is up in the air less than two weeks after the White House rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.

Monday night, about 300 people gathered on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus to ask the university to take a stand against the White House and protect undocumented residents, including some who were willing to risk it all.

Rubi Franco was just six years old when her parents paid a stranger to drive her and her two young siblings across the Mexican border with the promise that they would meet them on the other side. She says it’s the price they paid to flee the violence and give their kids a better life.

“It’s very easy for them to judge my family and judge me, not being in our shoes,” Franco said.

Franco, 21, is now a senior at UNC. She was one of the panelists speaking Monday night at an information session about the importance of DACA.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump announced the end of DACA, a program that protected immigrant youth from deportation and gave them the right to legally live and work in the United States.

“We all feel for those who came here or were brought here without their willingness or understanding that this was going to happen. We all heave a heavy heart for that, but we also have to understand that the United States is a country of laws,” said Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Organizers of Monday’s event at UNC called on the university to protect the undocumented.

“People talk about DACA like 800,000 individuals, but this is about families and communities,” said organize Barbara Sostaita.

For Franco, remaining in the U.S. is about fulfilling her parents dream. She said they’ve applied for visas three times, but were rejected.

Without DACA, Franco will be undocumented and unable to use her degree.

“This is my home. I would love to be a medical social worker,” she said.

Ron Stauss, the executive vice provost at UNC, announced that they have put together a task force to deal with the issue. The first meeting will be Friday and the group plans to come back with a report on a plan to make campus better for undocumented students in early December.