Law School Community Mobilizes in Defiance of Donald Trump

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

There is one topic of conversation dominating the halls of New York University School of Law – the hectic first days of President Donald Trump’s term in office. Following through on his campaign promise to impose a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration into the United States, Mr. Trump ordered a “travel ban” on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). While much of the law was stayed by multiple federal court rulings, thousands of protesters, including many NYU Law students and alumni, are crying foul.

Posted on Salon.com, 50 members of the Class of 2007 sent an open letter to their classmate, Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to President Trump, raising “serious concerns regarding Mr. Trump’s stated policies and policy proposals.” Citing Mr. Kushner’s status as the grandchild of a Holocaust survivor, the alumni encouraged their classmate to “use his deep sense of compassion to influence the Trump Administration in a positive way.” According to the posting, an earlier version of the letter sent last December received no response.

The Muslim Law Students Association released a statement condemning a policy that they felt unfairly, and unconstitutionally, targeted individuals based on their faith and country of origin. “This order is very clearly a ‘Muslim Ban.’ During his campaign, President Trump repeatedly promised that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States. The President’s intent to establish a Muslim ban was corroborated by top Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani in a recent interview with Fox News, where he remarked that President Trump asked how to make such a ban legally possible,” said Nealofar Panjshiri.

In a letter to the Law School community, Dean Trevor Morrison raised objection to Mr. Trump’s travel ban, pledging to support the students, faculty members, and their families who hail from the affected countries. “We are committed to doing all we can to keep them safe,” said Dean Morrison. When reached for comment, Law School Public Affairs Director Michael Orey confirmed that no NYU Law students, faculty, or administrators have been refused entry to the United States as a result of Mr. Trump’s executive order.

Although no members of the Law School community have been directly impacted by the travel ban, appeals for students to volunteer their legal services or to participate in protests have proliferated across the campus in recent days.

Freshly returned from a regional meeting in Boston with over 20 chapters of the National Black Law Students Association, where responses to the Trump Administration were discussed, Kayla Vinson of the Black Allied Law Students Association released a statement calling on students to join protests and make their voices heard. “Implementation of this Executive Order will only lead to further harassment and racial profiling of marginalized communities. BALSA strongly opposes the Administration’s attempt to spread fear, racism, and Islamophobia.”

Frances Hartmann of Resisting Injustice and Standing for Equality (RISE), a student advocacy group founded by alumni from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign last December, encouraged students in need to make use of resources available at the Law School. “Students and staff seeking immigration legal advice should contact NYU’s Immigrant Defense Initiative (IDI) at 212-998-6640 or immigrant.defense@law.nyu.edu for a free consultation. The IDI is being coordinated by NYU Law’s Immigrant Rights Clinic in partnership with WilmerHale.”

Professor Alina Das, director of the NYU Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, is providing legal services to those who have been detained at airports and other points of entry, according to Dean Morrison’s statement. Professor Das will also join colleagues Adam Cox and Nancy Morawetz for a forum discussing the impact of the travel ban on Wednesday.

Claudia Carvajal and Nicolas Duque-Franco, co-chairs of the Latino Law Students Association (LaLSA) were concerned that the “travel ban” did not appear to undergo enough scrutiny from within the Trump Administration before it was signed.

“We are appalled that the President would issue a categorical ban on travel, or any such policy based on race or national origin, that violates the Constitution. Reports that (1) [Customs and Border Patrol] officials have, in certain places, ignored Judge Donnelly’s stay, and (2) that the travel ban was issued without [Homeland Security] or [Justice Department] review, are alarming to say the least. This raises serious concerns about the legitimacy of future policies issued by the White House.”

 

Law School Statement on President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order

The below statement was sent from the Office of the Dean to members of the Law School community earlier today. It is reprinted in full below.

Dear NYU Law Community:

As you are all no doubt aware, on Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that temporarily bars all refugees into the United States and indefinitely bars all Syrian refugees, and that temporarily bars nearly anyone from seven specified countries (all of which are majority Muslim), regardless of visa type.  On Saturday night, amidst swelling protests at airports around the country, a number of federal courts issued orders temporarily suspending certain aspects of the executive order, pending further litigation.

The leaders of institutions of higher education across the country—including NYU’s President Hamilton—have raised alarms about the executive order and its potential impact on our students and our schools.  I share that concern for the NYU Law community, which includes students and scholars from the listed countries or who have family there, and Muslim students who feel that the order is hostile to their religion or who fear that their countries of origin may be targeted next.  We are in touch with members of our community who may be immediately impacted to offer our support.  These students and scholars are all full members of the NYU Law community, and we stand behind them.  We are committed to doing all we can to keep them safe.

We at NYU Law know that our strength lies in our diversity, in our promotion of the free flow of ideas, and in our provision of a welcoming intellectual home for all of our members, without regard to religion or viewpoint.  Openness is the heart of our enterprise.  While this may be true at any institution of higher learning, it is especially so at our Law School, whose commitment to global engagement is deep and longstanding.  Having grown up outside this country before coming to the U.S. for graduate school, the potential repercussions of this executive order resonate especially powerfully with me.  Speaking for myself, I simply cannot square it with our core values.

I am proud that members of our community, led by Professor Alina Das, are providing legal assistance to people detained at airports and others whose immigration status is now in doubt.  Our students and alumni likewise are organizing to offer legal assistance to those impacted.  Together, these members of the NYU Law community are helping to ensure that any new immigration policy is consistent with our constitutional values and is implemented lawfully.  We will also provide opportunities to discuss these issues on campus.  This Wednesday’s Forum will focus on the executive order and will feature analysis and commentary by Professors Adam Cox, Alina Das, and Nancy Morawetz.

This is a time of uncertainty and fear for many.  For the time being, we recommend that members of the NYU Law community from the seven countries named in the order who are in the United States on a visa, or who are lawful permanent residents here, do not travel outside the country.  If you have any concern about how the executive order could impact you, please contact our Immigrant Rights Clinic’s Immigrant Defense Initiative or NYU’s Office of Global Services.  Our Office of Student Affairs and Office of Graduate Affairs can also offer guidance and support.  And, as ever, please feel encouraged to call the Wellness Center for counseling if you need it.

Sincerely,

Trevor W. Morrison
Dean