There is something in the air on the Brandeis campus that gives the impression that nothing is occurring. Yes, Donald J. Trump is President of the United States. Yes, his policies are somehow uproarious, but so far the most affected seem to be international and immigrant students. Their fear and anguish increases, but it is kept quiet.
Last week, immigration attorney Madeline Cronin, of Landoli, Desai and Cronin P.C., came to Brandeis to give all the students, staff and faculty advice on the “do’s and don’ts” for the next few weeks, as Trump’s Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” unfolds nationwide. The Executive Order halts any entrance of U.S. refugees or other types of visas for citizens of any of the seven stated countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Many people with other citizenships and on distinct immigration statuses are asking themselves what they should do. This is especially true if they are from one of the seven countries that were banned. Most of the students from any of the seven banned countries were suggested to remain in the U.S. until it is said to be safe to leave without the insecurity and uncertainty of not being able to come back. The Brandeis community has reacted positively, as many alumni, parents and staff are calling the institution to offer students in this precarious circumstance some help. Many students who will be unable to return to their homes soon are being offered a place to stay or a summer job.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detained many legal residents and visa holders at different airports around the country; they have canceled “ten of thousands of valid visas for immigrants, professionals, students and travelers stranded abroad; and are alleged to have coerced at least two permanent residents into relinquishing their green cards,” according to The Washington Post.
In fact, Cronin advised citizens from other nations, such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Lebanon, Mali, Pakistan and Venezuela, to suspend any trip out of the country, at least until things are clearer.
After going over the main changes of Trump’s travel ban Executive Order, Brandeis students had the chance to ask Cronin questions or concerns on the issue. One student asked a question regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy and whether she considers it worth renewing it, despite the rumors that Trump is most likely getting rid of it, as he is doing with many of Obama’s previous policies. Cronin said that it is up to each individual; however, she has ceased helping students in the status of trying to renew their DACA. She considers it futile to be helping these students and charge them for something in which they may lose more than their money.
As a matter of fact, as previously reported on The Brandeis Hoot, there are many Brandeis students with DACA status. I got to meet one of these students during Cronin’s visit; the student told me how anxious and apprehensive it feels to be uncertain about one’s future and steadiness in this country.
In addition, on a more personal note, I happen to have two close friends on this status and I can see this new order emotionally and, perhaps in a not-so-distant future, institutionally affecting them. They were both born in countries that right now are dealing with political insurgencies and armed conflicts such that, if they are removed from the U.S., their lives and their families’ lives would be at risk.
As a way to heal the current circumstances, something the Director of the Intercultural Center (ICC) Madeleine López said resonated with many of the present audience. She gave a call for Brandeis students to take action. She said it was part of the experience as a college student to learn of other students’ experiences and give each other support, especially in these unknown times.
Jonathan Goldman ’19 took a brief moment to talk about the Student Association for TRII, whose aim is to provide the “students with the knowledge and skills to become accredited so they can represent and assist asylum seekers and aliens through immigration proceedings.” Many members of the audience showing interest in participating and helping those in need of migratory advice.
Provost Lisa M. Lynch said in an update this past Thursday, Feb. 2 that, “At Brandeis, we remain committed to supporting all of our students, staff, faculty and scholars regardless of their national background or country of origin.” In a week that has been rather murky for many people on campus and around the world, we at Brandeis are reminded through the community’s response the principle of openness to all on which the institution was founded.