An open letter to UNT officials on inviting ICE and CBP to campus

Dear President Smatresk, Provost Cowley, Criminal Justice Department Chair Bland, UNT Institutional Equity & Diversity Department Vice President Woodard, Career Center Director Naegeli, and Dean of Students McGuinness,

On September 5, 2017, President Smatresk sent out a message in support of DACA and undocumented students. In this message he stated, “I unequivocally support DACA, undocumented and other students who are overcoming significant barriers to educational attainment….We need to encourage them to stay focused, hopeful and invested in their education.” We agree, which is why we are disappointed that U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and similar agencies are continually being invited to UNT’s campus. The presence of these agencies does not encourage focus, hopefulness, and investment. They invoke stress, fear, and divestment.

We cannot tout, promote, and profit from concepts of diversity and inclusivity while alienating and distressing our DACA, undocumented, and international students, which is what inviting these agencies to the UNT campus does.

We--the faculty, staff, current students, alumni, and concerned individuals--respectfully demand that UNT implement specific actions to realize and advance the university’s stated support for our students who are immigrants, international, and/or undocumented, as well as workers and their families.

It is incumbent upon all programs involved in organizing university events to exercise better judgement and put in place some best practices to ensure that the commitments that President Smatresk and Provost Cowley made in support of DACA, undocumented, immigrant, and other students are also prioritized in all of their outreach efforts to our campus community. In accordance with the spirit of solidarity at the core of the goals of the university, we demand the following actions:

1. We demand an explanation of why and how CBP, an agency in charge of immigration and customs enforcement at the border and ports of entry inside, not outside, of the United States was invited to an international jobs affair.

2. We demand to know who invited CBP and why Marquis Hall, a building hosting international students, was selected as the host location.

3. We demand that given ICE’s and CBP’s instrumental role in immigration enforcement and given the Department on Homeland Security’s (DHS) own designation of universities as sensitive locations for enforcement per a 2011 memorandum ( and list of FAQs published in 2018 to clarify enforcement at courthouses ( that they are no longer invited to the University of North Texas.

4. We require that a list of all attendees is posted on all advertisements of any career fair and that visits by CBP and/or ICE are reported to the appropriate entity (e.g., dean of students, equity and diversity) and communicated clearly and widely to students, faculty, and staff at least a week ahead of time if CBP and/or ICE are invited to any campus event.

5. We require that campus personnel escort CBP and/or ICE officials while they are on campus if CBP and/or ICE are invited to any campus event.

To demonstrate our commitment as a university community and to amplify the voices of all those concerned by the actions of the university, we are petitioning the university administration to commit to these demands. This coalition so far (well over 200 signees and counting) is comprised of 34 percent UNT alumni, 30 percent UNT students, 11 percent UNT faculty and staff, and the remaining constituency comprised of concerned residents and members of local university communities including TWU.

We support President Smatresk’s affirmation of support for DACA, undocumented, immigrant, and other students. Our list of demands provides concrete actions and practical steps to honor the commitments already made to our university community. We encourage you stand with us on the right side of history.

Signed with strength in solidarity,
ICE Out Coalition:
Concerned Members of the Student Body, Alumni, Faculty, and Staff of UNT
Concerned Members of the North Texas Community
Cosecha Denton
North Texas Dream Team
Mueve UNT
DSA Denton
DFW Leaders

You can sign the petition here.

There will be a counter “justice fair” providing resources to DACA students the same day as the criminal justice fair, Monday March 4. Here is the event page:

Header image courtesy of Unsplash.

Header design by Mateo Granados.