Opinion Asks: U.S. Immigration Policy

Are Trump's anti-immigration policies burdening students unnecessarily?

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 9/20/19 2:10am

On Sept. 5, a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint was operated near Dartmouth’s campus on I-89. In late August, Ismail Ajjawi, a Palestinian student from Lebanon, arrived in Boston to attend Harvard University, and the New York Times reported that he was turned away by a CBP agent. The Dartmouth Opinion Staff responded. 

Are Trump’s anti-immigration policies burdening students unnecessarily? Or is it a symptom of effective enforcement?

An immigration system that instills fear into students who are simply trying to attend classes, that aggressively detains and hostilely interrogates 17-year-olds — is a broken immigration system. But we didn’t need the CBP checkpoint or Ismail Ajjawi’s detainment to know that the Trump administration has uncompromising anti-immigrant views; just look at the wealth of information about travesties occurring at the border and inhumane treatment being imposed on vulnerable people. Dehumanizing treatment of immigrants in the country has accelerated, so it’s surprising that those who claim to embrace immigrants haven’t strengthened their support and efforts in response. University administrations seem to think that public letters to the Trump administration are sufficient, but they must be proactive in helping students. This includes arranging and funding alternative travel routes, putting undocumented and international students in touch with effective and accessible resources and declaring Dartmouth a sanctuary campus. Undocumented students deal with everything from mere hassles to legitimate threats everyday, whether or not there’s a headline about it in The Dartmouth or The New York Times. It’s time that efforts to help them graduate from sporadic outpourings of support to long-term committed projects.

-Raniyan Zaman ’22

Whatever excuses are made about the “necessity” of the presence of these checkpoints and the broader activity of ICE and Border Patrol enforcement, the fact remains that what it amounts to in reality is open intimidation. For a country that prides itself so much on a commitment to liberty, it’s telling that the way its power manifests is little more than thuggishness, backed up with the threat of state violence. It is both intellectually and ethically dishonest to pretend there’s any moral equivalence between opposition to this country’s immigrant detention policies and a willingness to excuse atrocities in the name of meaningless platitudes about “security.” The more difficult question, and the one members of the Dartmouth community need to find an answer to, is why it takes CBP’s presence on the Ivy League’s doorstep to get our attention.

-Sajid Ahsan ’20

I went to Walmart today with another international friend today, and the fact that I had to make sure I had my passport and the photos of many important documents with me made me very uncomfortable. America pledges to be hospitable to its international students, yet this fear of being unnecessarily interrogated on your way to Walmart definitely doesn’t add up.

-Ezgi Okutan ’22

Raniyan Zaman is a board member of Coalition for Immigration Reform and Equality at Dartmouth (CoFIRED) but wrote this independently.