‘Illegals Go Home’ Poster Incites Fury At North Carolina High School; ‘No Human is Illegal’ Is Fine

Font Size:

A handful of student-made posters opposing immigration have caused an uproar at a North Carolina high school after a civics teacher placed the signs — among several others — in the hallway outside her classroom.

The site of the immigration signage kerfuffle is Clyde A. Erwin High School on the outskirts of Asheville. The teacher is Jesse Reeck, reports the Asheville Citizen-Times‎.

Reeck’s assignment asked students in her civics and economics class to create bumper sticker-type slogans concerning America’s ongoing immigration debate and then make posters.

One of the student-made signs read “Illegals Go Home.” A second one contained the words “America is for Americans.”

Other posters expressed pro-immigration views such as “No Human is Illegal,” “Equality” and “We are One.”

About 30 signs emblazoned with these and other slogans hung outside Reeck’s classroom for a few hours on Monday morning.

It was the few anti-immigration posters which proved contentious. Photos of those signs quickly swept local social media. Reaction was swift and bitterly angry.

Students were mad. Parents were mad.

By Tuesday, some students had assembled at lunch to chant “Mexico” over and over again.

By Wednesday morning, school officials had organized a meeting concerning the signs fracas.

At the meeting, Reeck stood up in front of a fairly packed auditorium and publicly asked for forgiveness. She was crying.

“I want to apologize to everyone who has been hurt by my poor choice to post our class assignment in the hall,” the biracial civics teacher said at the before-school meeting, according to Asheville ABC affiliate WLOS.

“I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused to students, parents and community members,” Reeck said.

“I made a serious mistake in posting the assignment in the hall outside the background and the context and the safe environment that we have created inside our classroom,” she added contritely.

The assignment was “a reflection of what we see today on the news in the presidential campaign and in the world around us,” she also explained, according to the Citizen-Times‎.

A large majority of the attendees at the hastily-arranged community meeting appeared to be appalled that students in a civics class would express their objections to America’s current immigration policy in concise bumper-sticker form.

The meeting, scheduled for 30 minutes, ended up lasting until past 9 a.m. because parents and people who live in the area refused to leave until they had a chance to stand up and speak.

“School is supposed to teach knowledge, not hate. That’s not okay,” parent Valeria Gamez declared at the meeting, according to WLOS.

Bianca Figueroa, from all the way down in Hendersonville, flatly equated the anti-immigration views expressed on the signs with racism.

“There are so many racist people out there, and if you make it okay at a public school, you are going to make it okay everywhere,” Figueroa said in the meeting, according to the Citizen-Times. “So, honestly, what most of these people (attending the meeting) want is just to stop it here.”

Some attendees at the meeting said they wanted Reeck to face punishment.

Another attendee, Joshua Ramirez, promised that the hubbub over the signs would force some ambiguous but definitely pro-immigration change.

“We’re not going to let this go at all,” Ramirez, a 2014 Erwin High graduate, promised a Citizen-Times reporter after the meeting. “We’re just all fed up and this is a time for change, for our change.”

Ramirez also claimed that he was suspended during his senior year for speaking in Spanish in a class. (RELATED: Principal Fired For Spanish Language Ban, Hispanic Activists Seek FBI INVESTIGATION)

The student population at Erwin High is notably diverse. Students represent about two dozen different countries from around the world. There is a strong Hispanic contingent.

Some parents who can’t speak English have complained they have to wait too long waiting for interpreters when they call school officials.

“Because of my accent, I’m not listened to,” one parent said at the community conclave over the signs, according to Asheville’s main newspaper.

Erwin High principal Jim Brown observed that the high school has specifically hired employees who speak both Spanish and Russian.

Brown also called attention to Erwin High’s non-discrimination policy. “It is not the intent of the school to discriminate against any kid,” he told WLOS.

Buncombe County Schools board chairwoman Ann Franklin suggested that more training for teachers and other employees is the way forward.

“I feel sure that’s something we will put in place,” Franklin told the Citizen-Times.

Follow Eric on TwitterLike Eric on Facebook. Send education-related story tips to