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CUNY student government presidents express condemnation for executive order

Baruch, along with 23 other CUNY colleges, were deemed sanctuary colleges. They are committed to protecting student privacy. Photo by Agata Poniatowski.

Baruch, along with 23 other CUNY colleges, were deemed sanctuary colleges. They are committed to protecting student privacy. Photo by Agata Poniatowski.

In response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, the presidents of 15 CUNY student governments signed a statement condemning the decision. The executive order led to four prominent cases of students not being allowed back into the United States.

On Feb. 9, The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled 3-0 against the administration’s attempt to reinstate the executive order, causing the president to tweet, “SEE YOU IN COURT.” With the decision, the Appeals Court upheld a lower court’s ruling allowing visa and green card holders to safely travel to and from the United States. However, CUNY’s immigrant community is still concerned with the executive order.

“Our University was founded on the principle that all ethnic and racial groups no matter the gender should be allowed equal access and opportunity to higher education,” the statement read. “We are disgusted by your unreasonable and immoral act which has prevented so many from pursuing the American Dream.”

Trump’s executive order banned citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, including valid visa and green card holders. All refugees were denied entry for 120 days, while refugees from Syria were blocked from entering the country indefinitely.

According to a statement posted on Hunter College’s website, the executive order could impact 120 CUNY students, along with some members of the faculty and staff. This is just part of the 40 percent of CUNY students who were born outside of the United States.

The International Student Service Center, which has access to the number of students affected by the order, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s executive order resulted in confusion and outrage. On the day when the ban was signed into effect, citizens of those seven countries suddenly found themselves unable to board planes destined for the United States.

In some cases, people who had boarded the planes were asked to exit them. Those who were mid-flight were detained in the airport for several hours or put on the same plane back from where they departed.

The executive order sparked protests in major cities across the country. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was soon flooded with hundreds of protestors and lawyers demanding for the release of those held in custody.

In an interview, Daniel Dornbaum, president of Baruch’s Undergraduate Student Government, said USG has been trying to help students who needed information.

“There’s not much that we can personally do, but we want to be a resource to students,” Dornbaum said. “A lot of the times, students feel more comfortable coming to us rather than administration. We need to be that kind of [connecting piece] between the resources that this college has and the students on the ground.”

One of the resources mentioned by Dornbaum is a lawyer paid for by USG. Dornbaum explained that USG pays for a lawyer to spend time on campus so that students can receive legal services for free. The lawyer has temporarily relocated to the Bearcat Den so that students affected by the executive order can have easier access to the help they need.

CUNY officials also signed a document deeming all 24 colleges sanctuary colleges. Similar to the term “sanctuary city,” sanctuary colleges are committed to protect the privacy of their students. This means that CUNY workers will not release information about students without a court order.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has also vowed to protect the privacy and immigration status of New Yorkers, even if it means losing federal funding for the city. If it came down to it, the mayor said he would delete the IDNYC records collected during the application process.

As Trump’s presidency continues, so do the protests voicing their opposition to his candidacy. While his Tweet may signal that he will appeal the executive order, CUNY students can expect their student governments to be on their side.

“We do not stand for hate and we do not stand for discrimination,” the statement from student government presidents read. “All twenty-four of our campuses are located in New York City where thousands have already rallied, marched, and protested the signing of this action.”

“We will join them in their outrage and will continue to oppose a discriminatory agenda as the face of your resistance.”

For now, however, the ruling of the Appeals Court will remain in effect.

February 10, 2017

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