Montclair State is ‘Working Diligently’ To Help Immigrants

By Chanila German, Assistant Copy Editor

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Students hung cards with welcoming messages during February’s Valentine’s Day rally on campus.
Photo by Nadia Abbas Photo credit: Nadia Abbas

On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that bans all immigrants and visa-holders from seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the United States for 90 days. Only four days later, on Jan. 31, president Susan A. Cole of Montclair State University sent a message to the Montclair State community to address the matter.

“Once here [at Montclair State], all of our students are entitled to, and receive, the full support of the University in achieving their educational goals, a mission that is sustained by a highly qualified faculty and staff, many of whom have come to the University from other parts of the world,” President Cole stated in her address letter after hearing the concerns of her students. While the Executive Order has been issued with a temporary restraining order on Feb. 3, President Cole refuses to let that stop the University from showing their support and encouragement to students.

Jean- Yves Brefo, a biology and religious studies major at Montclair State, said that he agrees with Montclair State’s decision to support student whom are immigrants because “everyone has a purpose and no one should have limitation placed on them. As far as immigration goes, I believe that everyone is a citizen of God and that he doesn’t view anyone as an immigrant.”

President Cole has teamed up with Elizabeth A. Gill, director of international services at the global education center, and numerous other departments to provide various resources to students.

“Montclair State has created a resource page for international students, scholars and faculty. It contains guidance on travel, handling encounters with government and law enforcement officials, and submitting immigration applications. It also has some great information and resources from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA); as well as counseling and psychological resources,” explained Director Gill.

She also mentioned the many programs and workshops being offered through their partnership with One to World.

The programs varies. Conversation beyond Borders is having students, staff and scholars come together to converse about important topics from all around the world to pop culture. Another program, Connecting Across Cultures, students talk to one another from different parts of the world to learn about their diverse cultures. Lastly, One to World program, bringing students together with different perspectives from around the world to engage for face-to-face conversations with other students.

Sona Bayrami, a graphic design major at Montclair State, was born and raised in Iran until she immigrated to the United States her sophomore year of high school.

“I remember the day [that the Executive Order was announced], I was actually planning a trip to visit my family [in Iran]. Obviously I can’t go now, even though I am a permanent resident [in the United States] because if I do go it is going to be a big mess. [There is a possibility] that I won’t be allowed back in the country, even though I can prove that I am enrolled in the University and work here. The whole thing just sucks, ” Bayrami explained with disappointment.

When asked on how Montclair State is handling the current crisis by providing different recourses and opposition against the order, Bayrami states, “[I think that it is] beneficial for people to see that even though he [President Trump] is the president and he has these views – it doesn’t mean they are right. That organizations and institution [like Montclair State] are standing up against it, showing him that he will not affect [people’s rights to get a proper education]. “

When asked the same question on how Montclair is handling immigration, “Haden” the anonymous name of a Montclair State student said, “I think the school defending immigrants makes the school look good because a lot of the school population is immigrant. [So if Montclair State] had not defend immigrants, that would have been ridiculous. Immigrants have contributed to the United States’ economy, and society so for us not to stand up for our people would go against American teachings that we have grew up knowing.”

Haden also expressed her views on those that agree with the executive order by passionately saying, “People that say immigrants shouldn’t be here is that this country was built on [the backs of] immigrants from their hard work, and perseverance. For the [United States] to limit people from pursuing their dreams is like us sitting down and saying that our children shouldn’t have a good future. The point is that if a country is build from immigrants and it stops accepting immigrants, what becomes of that country?”

The Montclair State will continue to support all immigrants and non-immigrants students. Director Gill stated that Montclair State will be “working diligently to ensure that they have access to the vital resources they need during this uncertain time. Any student with questions or concerns may feel free to reach out to [Elizabeth A. Gill] directly at 973-655-6862 or gille@montclair.edu.

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