News
Panel evaluates implications of executive action
By
News Editor
Friday, February 10, 2017

Three professors and an immigration lawyer analyzed the legality and aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration.

The federal government suspended enforcement of President Trump’s exclusion order for residents of seven Muslim-majority countries on Feb. 3, demonstrating a constitutional act of checks and balances on the executive branch.

Prior to the suspension of the travel ban, Wake ForestPresident Nathan Hatch issued a message to the students, faculty, and staff. “Wake Forest stands for the respect and dignity of all people, for the diversity that enriches a community of learning and for the spirit of inclusion that makes a community feel like home,” he said. “Wake Forest stands for creating opportunity for the betterment of ourselves and our neighbors. Wake Forest stands for Pro Humanitate — in every sense of the word.”

A lack of direction from the White House in regards to implementation of the executive order meant unending chaos and confusion for both foreigners attempting to enter the United States and Customs and Border Patrol agents alike. Demonstrations took place outside the White House and in airports across the country, and multitudes of lawyers sat on terminal floors for hours to aid those who had been detained.

Following Robart’s ruling, though, approximately 60,000 foreigners from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen who had their visas reversed are now able to freely travel.

Freshman Mohammad Malik, who is an active member of the Muslim Student Association, expressed relief at the suspension of the exclusion order.

“It was relieving to know that Trump’s racist, unconstitutional executive order was struck down,” he said. “However, the judge’s ruling was, and still is, temporary. I know that the Muslim ban order could still come into effect. For this reason we need to keep fighting against this bigoted executive order by calling senators and donating any amount of money to the ACLU.”

On Feb. 3, prior to Robart’s ruling, the university hosted a panel discussion consisting of Wake Forest professors and an immigration lawyer from Winston-Salem to analyze the constitutionality of the executive order, provide information about refugee and immigrant integration in the U.S. and address questions from students.

Helen Parsonage, an immigration lawyer from Winston-Salem, confronted the vast uncertainty about the futures of her clients, which still remains following the temporary suspension of the exclusion order.

“This last week put me in a position that, as an attorney, I am very uncomfortable with.” Parsonage said. “Immigration attorneys are saying, ‘We have no idea.’”

The impact of the exclusion order has already had an effect in the Winston-Salem area.

Haval Ali, a physician from the Kurdistan region of Iraq, travelled to the U.S. on a visa to complete research at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. While in North Carolina, he met and fell in love with Kristine Ali of Lexington and the two were married. A month after their marriage, Ali’s visa expired and he returned to Iraq. He has been attempting to return to his wife since April, but his visa application has been halted.

“It was beautiful from the start,” Kristine Ali told the Winston-Salem Journal. “We’re simple people. Simple lives. We love each other.”

Parsonage said that the ban has impacted many of her clients who have followed all correct legal procedures in the immigration process.

“If this ban stays in effect for any length of time, and their work permits expire, they lose their jobs, and their license to drive expires,” Parsonage said. “They have children to feed. This is not just an inconvenience to a hundred people.”

In addition, politics professor Hank Kennedy argued that the countries targeted in the exclusion order are not a threat to U.S. interests and that the White House’s policies could damage the American image around the world.

“The costs of these policies which continue to generate out of the creative minds of Bannon and Flynn and others of like ilk are significant,” Kennedy said. “Another issue has to do with our state in terms of soft power. Its ideology includes claims to being diverse and welcoming to immigrants. The world sees the United States withdrawing from its core values. What made the United States exceptional is now tarnished.”

He also refuted claims that the Obama administration was inappropriately relaxed in its immigration policy. Approximately 2.5 million individuals were deported during his eight years in office, and the vetting process for those wishing to resettle in the country is already thorough and extensive.

“Sometimes incompetence can be a strategy,” Kennedy said. “Tweeting randomly to keep the people who oppose his policies from having a target. This past week Trump has provided lots of moving targets. This is one.”

Hana Brown was another speaker on the panel. Brown is a professor of sociology whose studies focus on immigration

“When our immigration policies reflect the best values of our nation and when they welcome [immigrants] with open arms,” Brown said, “immigrants are more likely to incorporate into American society and are more likely to become citizens.”

Her comments reflected the consensus of the panelists as well as the attitude of the university’s administration’s response to the White House’s executive order.

“Wake Forest did a great job at making sure their students, staff and faculty knew that Trump’s immigration order was against everything the university stands for,” Malik said.