Aoun joins letter in support of undocumented immigrants


By Olivia Arnold, news editor

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun joined more than 400 college and university presidents calling on the country’s leaders to extend protections for undocumented immigrants.

According to the statement, which was posted online by Pomona College Monday, Nov. 21, the preservation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is a “moral imperative and a national necessity.” Under DACA, federal officials can exercise discretion and allow undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were younger than 16 years old to temporarily stay in the country.

“America needs talent — and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community,” the statement read. “They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders, they are essential to the future.”

President-elect Donald J. Trump promised throughout his campaign to repeal DACA and issue mass deportations for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. Since his election, Trump has publicly softened that stance. In a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Nov. 13, Trump said his priority was to deport two to three million undocumented immigrants who had criminal records.

Northeastern spokesperson Matthew McDonald said in a Nov. 25 email to The News that the university is mindful of government actions that could affect its students.

“As a global university, Northeastern has a robust infrastructure of resources available to assist all students as appropriate based on their individual needs,” McDonald said. “As we always do, we will monitor any changes in government policy that could impact the educational experiences of our students.”

Scout Reading, a freshman marketing major, said she thought it was important that Aoun took a public stance on immigration in light of the current political climate.

“I think it’s really important, because especially with the president-elect saying things like, ‘We should get rid of all these immigrants,’ I can’t even imagine how scared people must be feeling right now,” Reading said. “The fact that universities and their presidents can come out and just say that, ‘We’re here to support you, we’re here to protect you,’ I think is really reassuring to undocumented immigrants.”

Reading volunteers at the Roxbury Crossing branch of the nonprofit group Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD). ABCD is an anti-poverty organization that serves a significant immigrant population, with services such as food pantries, English lessons, immigration legal counseling and citizenship test preparation.

“They’re worried, definitely worried,” Reading said of the ABCD employees. “They’ve actually put on hold their DACA services right now […] just so they can see how policy changes might affect that service.”

Carolina Ramos, an undeclared freshman, also volunteers with ABCD and agreed that there is a moral obligation to protect undocumented immigrants. Ramos, who immigrated to the U.S. from Brazil in 2009 when she was 11 years old, emphasized that immigrants contribute to their surrounding communities.

“Imagine just being someone that lived here your entire life or even just a couple of years and then not being able to continue your education,” Ramos said. “That would be heartbreaking to me because I would feel like I kind of contributed to this community in some sense, and now I can’t even continue to get educated.”

Ramos acquired permanent residence status in 2011. She said she could relate to the insecurity undocumented immigrants would feel if DACA was repealed.

“It totally changes your life when you go from not having [residence status] to being able to feel more secure in the country and feeling like you actually belong here and that people want you to be here,” she said. “So I think it’s really important [for Aoun] to take that stance.”

File photo by Scotty Schenck