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Feb 20 2017
by Marie Fayssoux

North Carolina College Students Respond To A Day Without Immigrants Protests

By Marie Fayssoux - Feb 20 2017
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On Thursday, February 16, immigrants across the country staged protests to show the large impact they have on communities. The protests, collectively called Day Without Immigrants, resulted in the closing of many restaurants, businesses and even schools -- some because they wanted to show their solidarity, others because they didn't have enough staff to operate. Clearly, immigrants play a larger role in running a successful community than many non-immigrants realized. 

Here in the Triangle (Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham) Area, college students responded largely in favor of immigrants and their protests. Fresh U spoke to some of them about what they witnessed and/or took part in. 

Sofia Montalbo, a Freshman at Elon University, shared a post on Facebook warning immigrants of potential deportation roadblocks set up between Durham and Chapel Hill and asked others to spread the message. 

Claire Fayssoux, a student teacher at an elementary school in Durham, had only half of her class attend school on the day of the protests. The rest, immigrants or the children of immigrants, stayed home. In total, the school was missing 157 students, about 1/3 of its students that day. Fayssoux told Fresh U that:

I knew [the protest] was just for a day but I couldn't help but imagine if Trump actually did make it so they'd have to leave and how much I'd miss them.

Even local businesses like Chapel Hill favorite Med Deli supported the protests. On February 16 they closed to convey solidarity. Med Deli employs and is frequented by immigrants and proudly recognizes the sacrifices they make that truly make this country great. 

Susi Golsteyn via Overheard at UNC

Rosey Villa, a psychology and sociology double major and Latino Studies minor at UNC, is the daughter of two immigrants from Mexico. Her mother came to the U.S. when she was three years old and her father when he was fifteen. Rosey first heard of the Day Without Immigrants protests through social media but was initially skeptical of its impact since not many businesses had joined the movement yet. Still, when she received an invite to a rally at Durham's Compare Foods she decided to go. 

"I have attended protests before relating to the Muslim ban and the increase of deportations, this one was different," said Rosey. She spoke of the understanding community she encountered, those that actually understand the struggles she faces as a Latina. The common goal they shared was getting others to understand how important immigrants are to the US and its economy.

People shared their personal experiences and undocumented immigrants and documented immigrants. There were Dreamers, U-Visa recipients, U.S. citizens and undocumented migrants who shared their experiences in this country and its horrible legal/immigration system.

In addition to speaking about personal experiences, Rosey and other attendees of the rally demanded that the Durham police force not collaborate with ICE and asked for the rejection of checkpoints aimed at detaining undocumented individuals. 

Rosey is glad she went and told Fresh U,

It was overall a great experience where people of many nationalities united to share their experiences with the public!  

Lead Image Credit: Nitish Meena via

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Marie Fayssoux - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Marie is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She plans to major in human development/family studies and minor in creative writing. She has an affinity for Guinea pigs, hairless cats, glitter, avocados and changing the world. Follow her on Twitter @MissMarieAsh

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