SU Panel of Experts to Discuss President Trump’s Immigration Executive Order, Feb. 24, 2017

Action by President Donald J. Trump on immigration policy has been swift. Just a week after his inauguration, Trump issued an executive order (EO) temporarily halting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. It was immediately met with popular protests, scholarly analysis, and eventually judicial review in the forming of a temporary restraining order (TRO) upheld by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“I worry the damage is already done,” says Ken Harper. “I know that some SU departments are seeing a decrease in student and faculty interest.”

Critics contend the Jan. 27 EO wrongly suspended travel for all immigrant and non-immigrant visa holders from the seven countries, including those holding resident alien, student, and business travel visas. The TRO lifted some of these restrictions, but a chilling effect on business and educational travel—including to and from Syracuse University—has been reported.

Trump’s immigration policy continues to evolve rapidly. The president, after resolving to push the original EO through the courts, now appears to be preparing a new executive order; the Department of Homeland Security has issued “guidance memos” that outline plans for “aggressive enforcement of immigration laws”; and confusion about how to implement the original EO continues.

For those confused by Trump’s immigration EO; interested in the legal, social, and political ramifications of Trump’s immigration policies; or even affected by the original “travel ban,” the International Law Society will host an interdisciplinary roundtable on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Empire Lecture Hall, 440 Dineen Hall, SU College of Law.

Speaking at “President Donald J. Trump’s Immigration Order & Travel Ban” will be SU experts from the fields of political science, Middle East studies, immigration law, international law, human rights, and public affairs: Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Chair, Department of Political Science, Maxwell School; Ken Harper, Director, Newhouse Center for Global Engagement; Gary Kelder, Professor, SU Law; Andrew Kim, Associate Professor, SU Law; Stephen Pike, Assistant Professor, Newhouse School; and Corri Zoli, Director of Research, Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism.

SU Law LL.M. students Kseniia Guliaeva and Amanda Freire de Almeida developed the idea for the panel after hearing from friends and colleagues in the wake of the Jan. 27 EO. “Many of us know people personally affected by the EO,” says Guliaeva, a Fulbright scholar from Krasnoyarsk in central Russia. “They have a lot of questions about what is happening, and they pushed us to organize this event.”

Freire de Almeida, from Belém, Brasil, says she has friends from Iran and other countries listed in the EO, some of whom are now reluctant to leave the US to visit family. “I believe that the travel ban has been very chaotic, but I believe that justice will prevail,” she says. When setting up the panel, she and Guliaeva wanted to ensure that many viewpoints would be heard, not just legal. “I hope the discussion will help the audience respect a diversity of views. When critiquing the EO, we can’t just rely on one perspective, we must open our minds in order to reach a common sense opinion.”

Panelist Mehrzad Boroujerdi says he also knows of SU students who aren’t travelling abroad and others reconsidering their decisions to attend the University. The panel, he hopes, will give students and others a more “holistic” view of issues surrounding immigration and Trump’s “travel ban,” although he is skeptical that even a revised order will calm the waters. “The EO was an ill-advised and draconian measure,” he says. “Re-writes will be tried, but if Trump insists on some of the more radical aspects, then protracted legal battles will ensue. Even if it is presented in a revised manner, it will have a chilling effect on research and studies at SU.”

I worry the damage is already done,” says Ken Harper, another panelist. “I know that some SU departments are seeing a decrease in student and faculty interest.” Harper, who works on international student projects, says he is concerned about how new immigration policies will affect SU’s international partnerships. “What better way to cut higher education institutions off at the knees than push international students away. We are in uncharted territory with this administration’s immigration actions.”

“The Jan. 27 EO came at a time of crisis in international affairs over immigration and refugees, a crisis that is testing whether norms and assumptions are sustainable,” say panelist Corri Zoli, putting the US immigration debate into its geopolitical context. “The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there’s an unprecedented 65 million forcibly displaced people on the move today, including more than 21 million refugees, more than half of whom are children. Many are fleeing conflict zones and rising ethnic and religious persecution in the Middle East and North Africa, while others are escaping from unsustainable economic and political conditions.”

As a young lawyer interested in a career in international law and human rights, Freire de Almeida believes that the strengths of American jurisprudence and separation of powers will balance the president’s executive powers in this case. “The US has a strong judicial system,” she says, “and you just can’t rely on presidential orders to create law.” Guliaeva, however, declined to predict what path Trump’s immigration policies will follow. “I will be able to answer that question with more authority after attending the panel discussion on Friday!” she says.