Written Work

The College speaks about immigrant issue

February 24, 2017

Last November, after the election of President Donald Trump, President Jane Fernandes sent out an email to the campus community on how Guilford College would respond to potential changes in immigration policy.

Among other things, it stated the College would not declare itself a sanctuary but would continue to support students regardless of immigration status. Since then, however, there have been no statements from the College on what that support might look like.

“I have been very pleased with Jane and the way she has engaged in the conversation,” said senior José Oliva. “(People think), because there is no statement, … there is no work happening. A lot of people like the sound bite of, … ‘We are pro-immigrant, pro-blah-blah,’ but that without action means nothing.”

Recently, raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement have increased, and according to The Guardian, two recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy have been detained, bringing the future of undocumented students into the national spotlight.

The College administration says they are participating in ongoing discussions to ensure DACA and undocumented students are protected at the College.

“It’s a moving conversation,” said Fernandes. “Sometimes it’s been senior team members, sometimes trustees, sometimes our college attorneys, … immigration attorneys, various students, … faculty and staff, but it’s been more roving discernment than group discernment.”…

Local co-op serves to employ, feed their community

November 4, 2016

Even early on a Thursday morning, the new Renaissance Community Co-op has a steady trickle of customers. Gloria Hill works the checkout line, wearing a small witch’s hat and an apron.

“I’ve been out of work for two years, so I’m thankful for this job,” said Hill. “I’m just praying it will succeed.”

After 18 years without a grocery store in the community and five years of organizing funding, northeast Greensboro’s community owned grocery store opened for business on Oct. 14 — the first of its kind.

“We’re a community that answered our own problems,” said Mo Kessler, a founding board member and governance and policy chair of the co-op. “We’re building community wealth and sustainability, and (have) created jobs for ourselves, all in the face of a million and a half ‘no’s’ and 20 years, basically, of neglect from the city.”

Eighteen years ago, the local Winn-Dixie left, leaving the area a food desert, a place without easy access to groceries. After 13 years, no new stores had come in to replace it, forcing many people in the generally impoverished neighborhood to take long public transportation trips to buy food.

It was then, in 2011, members of the community decided to band together and investigate the possibility of opening up a community owned co-op. So they commissioned a study on the viability of a grocery store….

May 17, 2016

Sithamparam Pillai had experience with detention.

He came to the UK in 2010, when he was 20, on a student visa after two stints in detention in Sri Lanka, resulting from the conflict between the government and the Tamil minority to which he belongs.

“It wasn’t my choice [to leave],” he said. “I was just released from detention in Sri Lanka, so I had to escape from the danger and the hell.”

In 2013, with the government still asking about his whereabouts, Pillai, who asked that his real name not be used for reasons of privacy, applied for asylum.

Pillai’s first asylum claim was turned down due to lack of evidence. While he prepared his second claim, he was ordered to sign into a Home Office location weekly to prove that he had not absconded.

In November 2013, he went to sign in and was asked to step into another room and answer some questions. Guards came and removed his coat and other personal effects.

“And then after half an hour, this one person came and she told me, ‘I’m sorry, we going to detain you, you don’t have any merits on your case,’” said Pillai. “I didn’t know what was happening, because I’d never heard about detention … I was shocked. I couldn’t imagine that it’s happening now—whatever happened back home is happening now.”…

May 15, 2016

A Hostile Environment

The UK has one of the highest populations of irregular migrants, those without documents or leave to remain, of any European country. The exact number is not known, as the last research on the subject was a report from London School of Economics in 2007. They estimated the population was around 618,000, give or take 200,000.

Of these, most enter the country legally.

“The image of the sort of clandestine man on the back of a lorry coming through Calais, that is a minority,” said Saira Grant, chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).

The largest group is likely people who have applied for asylum in the UK and have been refused. The Home Office, which handles asylum and immigration issues, encourages people to leave and tries to remove them if they refuse. But many remain anyway.

“[Asylum seekers say] if I have to choose between going back to my own country and sleeping on the street and living in this country and sleeping on the street, I’m going to stay here,” said Kate Smart, director of Asylum Welcome, an organization that helps asylum seekers in Oxford.

The high number of irregular migrants remains a popular political topic. The stated policy of the current government is to create a “hostile environment” for irregular migrants to discourage those who might over-stay.

To facilitate this, the government passed the Immigration Act 2014, and another one, the Immigration Act 2016 came into law on May 12. Among other provisions, the 2014 Act created new civil sanctions for employers and landlords who hire or rent to irregular migrants, while the 2015-2016 Bill added criminal penalties for new offenses, such as driving a car as an irregular migrant