“AU Stands Up” for immigration rights
No Lost Generation at AU holds a protest against the Trump immigration ban
Students held a rally called “AU Stands Up” on the steps of the Mary Graydon Center on Friday in opposition to President Trump’s recent immigration ban.
According to organizers, the rally was put on to show solidarity for immigrants and refugees banned from entering the United States under the Trump administration as well as in hopes of encouraging AU to become a “sanctuary campus,” which will provide services and guidance for students threatened by the immigrant ban, either documented or undocumented.
The rally was organized by the group on campus, No Lost Generation AU, which was established in 2016 and promotes awareness for the global refugee crisis and education about immigrant and refugee rights, according to its Facebook page. The initiative was originally founded at George Washington University in 2015, and has since spread to 55 chapters across the U.S., according to the NLG website.
Speakers at the protest said that refugees don't have a choice in regards to their situations.
“We're here to educate people here who are uneducated about immigration. Ignorance is bliss as they say,” junior Dau Doldol of the School of International Service said at the rally. “This is a fight for the very soul for the country we stand in.”
Doldol said that the AU community has to stand up for the rights and freedoms that America spreads throughout the world, and begin to use them in everyday life. He was born in Kenya and lived in a refugee camp for seven years with other Sudanese, Ethiopian and Somali refugees, and arrived in the U.S. in 2005.
In the refugee camp, Doldol found acceptance for other races and people, and noted that it took three years for their family to be able to come to the United States and experienced an extremely long and arduous screening process. He talked about feeling as if they were “in heaven” when they touched down in New York City for the first time as a child.
NLG members declined to comment about the rally because they wanted their speakers, who have been personally affected by Trump’s rhetoric, to speak for the cause as a whole rather than personally comment.
Organizers also passed out flyers explaining their demands for the University now that the executive order is in effect in the United States. Their demands included:
- Destroy the list of students at AU from the seven countries that were banned out of concern for their safety and well-being.
- Provide anonymous legal and mental health counseling for affected students.
- Protect students no matter their documentation status.
- To be transparent in their actions about actions regarding this process, and communicate with students about things that might affect them.
- Prevent Public Safety from carrying out any actions regarding these issues.
“This issue hits very close to home. Donald Trump is leading our country in a deep, dark place,” freshman Omeed Ansari of the School of International Service said. “America is so unique because everyone is so different and from many backgrounds.”
At the rally, students shouted popular cries like “No justice, no peace,” “This is what democracy looks like,” “Refugees are welcome here” and “No wall, no ban.”
The rally was cut short due to the cold temperatures on Friday, but the group posted on Facebook that “the goal for this event was to push administration to protect its students and the work to achieve that continues beyond today's rally.”