Jynn Schubert & Taylor Crisler | Staff Writers
A few dozen UNT students and faculty stood on the steps of the Hurley Administration Building Monday to protest and petition President Neal Smatresk to make UNT a sanctuary campus.
UNT students advocating for the university to become a sanctuary to undocumented immigrants were satisfied after meeting with Smatresk to discuss policy reforms after previously unsuccessful negotiations. Though Smatresk cautioned onlookers and activists of the limitations to the university’s abilities to legally support undocumented students, he said ICE agents would not be allowed on campus without first obtaining a warrant.
“It’s not just a warrant that they need,” Sanctuary UNT leader and English major David Lopez said. He was one of the two representatives who met with Smatresk in his office. “It’s a whole process. They have to inform UNT police, [and] they have to inform the administration. They can’t just do a raid on campus, so I feel secure about students on that front.”
Associate anthropology professor Mariela Nuñez-Janes and Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja joined protesting students and shared their experienced with U.S. immigrations policy. Both gave speeches on the steps of Hurley.
Students’ concerns have been on the rise since the arrest of UTD student Edwin Romero February 21, who had been detained by Richardson police despite his DACA status. Romero was released the next day thanks to efforts by the North Texas Dream team, a group of activists and lawyers who work Pro Bono to protect the local immigrant population.
“Smatresk showed us much more support than I assumed,” Lopez said. “If worse comes to worse, if a student gets detained, we know we have his support.”
Featured Image: Students protest for a sanctuary campus Monday, Mar. 6 in front of the Hurly Administration Building. Robert Warren