by Nina Campli, Contributing Writer
With the ever more hostile and confusing political climate today, it can be difficult to determine which of our rights are being expanded, if any, and which are being infringed upon. It is especially difficult for the international students here on campus to determine where they stand in the eyes of America’s new laws. On Wednesday at 4:30 in Crawford Hall, Title IX, SJP and MESA hosted an event titled “Life Between the Ban and the Wall – Freedoms Under Siege – State of Civil and Human Rights in the Era of Trump”. The goal of the event was to discuss the immigration policies in America, who they affect and how they affect those people. MESA President Laila Hanandeh said she wanted to hold this event because, “I wanted to have a place where minorities could learn about their rights and learn how to handle situations where their rights are restricted.” Emily Ralph, Title IX Coordinator, reached out to CAIR NJ, who gave an informative session on the executive order, the Muslim ban and what to do if you are placed in a situation with ICE or other law officers.
CAIR, or the Council of American-Islamic Relations, has 28 offices throughout the United States as well as in Canada. Their goal is to encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, and empower Muslims in the U.S. They also strive to enhance the understanding of Islam and build coalitions and mutual understanding.
Kimberly Krone, Immigration Attorney for the American Friends Service Committee, discussed immigration enforcement on both sides of the U.S. border. One of the many issues covered in the explanation of border enforcement was the return of those seeking asylum in the U.S, who are from or coming through Mexico. There were also many points about internal enforcement of immigration. However, one that is extremely concerning is local jurisdictions doing federal immigration work. There are two questions that stem from this: 1) if the local police are enforcing immigration law then who is enforcing criminal law? and 2) how will police enforce the law if they have no training in it and the training for it is not federally funded?
The other two speakers were James Sues, Executive Director of CAIR NJ, and Nadia Kahf, Attorney and Chair of CAIR NJ. They specifically discussed the Muslim ban and how Trump’s attitude has affected Muslims in the U.S. His bias aggravated an already heated situation and since his election there have been an increase in anti-Muslim crimes. Sues and Kahf also talked about how to handle a situation when ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or other law officers approach you in your home or on the street.
After the panel was over, students shared what they thought of the event. Many said they believed it was extremely informative and want Drew to hold more events like this. Sabrina Chemlir (‘19) attended the event because, “I’m interested in immigration and immigration laws and I believe people should know their rights” she added, “I’m also an advocate for citizens of the world.” When asked if Drew should host more events like this one, Chemlir believes, “Any events about critical topics are valuable to education and our world perspective.”
Coordinator Emily Ralph was asked what she hopes students got out of the event. She responded, “I hope that students who participated feel that Drew cares about students who feel impacted by new policies and laws and that they left feeling well informed about the policies and laws discussed by the immigration and civil rights lawyers.”
If you have any questions or concerns contact Emily Ralph, the Title IX coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org) or CAIR NJ.