UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – On Friday, April 14, the Penn State Law Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic held an information session regarding the current status of President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration in the Apfelbaum Courtroom in the Lewis Katz Building. With so many new developments, lawsuits, and commentary, the clinic aimed to clarify the status of litigation for attendees—students and members of the community—while also emphasizing the human side of the effects of these orders.
Clinic students Kritika Bedi and Brianni Frazier organized the evening, which was a question-and-answer session with speakers Abed A. Ayoub, the national legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and Johnathan Smith, the legal director of Muslim Advocates (MA). The clinic has recently collaborated with both ADC and MA on the creation of fact sheets and summaries on the immigration executive orders.
After Bedi and Frazier opened with a timeline of the orders and a summary of legal actions, they turned their focus to the work of the ADC and MA, and asked that each speaker bring to light the effects of the executive orders on the people that each organization serves. Ayoub stressed that while everyday life was impacted for travelers—people going to weddings, funerals, back to school—it was also everyday life for U.S. citizens that felt different.
“This was like a kick to the stomach,” said Ayoub. “They really feel like, ‘Am I really a part of this country? Are they coming after citizens next?’ People were afraid to fly, to travel anywhere. Our responsibility is to help put these people at ease.”
Ayoub grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, the city with the largest Arab-American concentration in the U.S. His former neighbor and now an associate professor of law at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Khaled Beydoun, was in attendance at the event. Ayoub invited Beydoun up to offer his thoughts on Islamophobia.
“Hate incidents are happening; hate crime statistics are not a clear picture,” said Beydoun. “There is this system of ‘othering’ that is causing more mistrust.”
Smith also spoke on the effects of the current rhetoric on his clients, and the importance of the work the MA does.
“We have an obligation to let all people impacted know what’s happening, in an easy to understand manner,” said Smith.
The speakers and moderators created an open dialogue that made for a very engaging discussion.
“Everyone really appreciated the event,” said Bedi. “Many students in attendance were not law students, but the presenters spoke in terms that everyone could understand and relate to. It was a great way to let people know the status of the litigation and what’s coming next.”
To watch the event in its entirety, please click here.
Resources from the event:
PowerPoint Presentation: The Trump Immigration Executive Orders: Impact on Arab and Muslim Communities
Summary of Executive Order 'Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,' or "Refugee/Muslim Ban 2.0", Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic, March 6, 2017.
Arab and Muslim Ban 2.0 Litigation Update, Penn State Law Center for Immigrants' Rights Clinic and American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Commitee, March 16, 2017.