In response to the widely-protested immigration ban implemented by President Donald Trump’s White House, students of the Claremont Colleges mobilized in demonstrations supporting affected Middle Eastern and Muslim folks. Enacted on Jan. 27, the executive order blocked citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Since then, the Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court has overturned the implementation of the ban.
The administrations of the Claremont Colleges offered their support to students in letters sent out to the community, condemning the unconstitutional nature of the order and providing available resources for impacted students.
Though there are no international students from the affected countries currently at the 5Cs, several students have family and friends living in the affected countries.
Muslim Student Association President Rohma Amir SC ’18 described how, immediately following the executive order, she reached out to the college deans for institutional support.
“[MSA] had a big dinner on Tuesday,” said Amir. “We sent out an invite to all the Deans, and all the faculty that had expressed allyship, and some student leaders as well. We had this really big dinner, and we told them that we have some events in the works, and we’re trying to delegate these faculty members to specific committees.”
When asked about the institutional support she is receiving, Amir said, “Right now, our main focus is supporting international students that may feel worried.”
“We’re trying to reach out to the Deans and have a dialogue with them about how they can better support us,” Amir continued. “Students–not just at the 5Cs but at college campuses in general–are worried about going home for the summer. So we’re trying to see if people can have housing for the summer, specifically if they’re from affected countries or Muslim majority countries.”
Amir is also working to organize a “Know Your Rights” workshop for Muslim students, collaborating with the Damage Control Action Network (DCAN), one of the organizations working to politically mobilize students against Trump’s agenda on the local level. DCAN founder Shayok Chakraborty PO ’19 commented on the difficulty of combating the federal ban.
“We are partnering with the Muslim Students Association for a Know Your Rights workshop here, and we are going to reach out to the mosque and the Islamic Center of Claremont and CAIR – the Council of American Islamic Relations – to do that,” Chakraborty said. “But in the sense of local governmental action, there’s very little we can do.”
In the days immediately following the executive order, numerous Claremont students traveled to Los Angeles International Airport and Ontario International Airport to protest on behalf of those affected by the ban.
Middle Eastern Student Association (MESA) Co-President Chance Kawar PZ ’17 wrote in an email to TSL, “I think there is some optimism in the fact that there are so many people in the community reaching out to us, [Middle Eastern students], to offer support and take a public stance against what is happening.”
MESA is one of many organizations on campus looking to support affected students during this time.
“We helped to push for the designation of Pitzer College as a sanctuary college and were also vocal in the discussions regarding the recent resolution adopted by the Claremont City Council,” Kawar wrote. “Many of us still have family living in the Middle East and are worried about the long term implications of this ban.”
The purpose of MESA is not to politically organize but to provide a space on campus for Middle Eastern students to share their experiences and stories with one another. Its continued support of those affected by Trump’s executive orders has been echoed by other organizations on campus.
In another show of support, Claremont McKenna College student organization ¡Mi Gente! partnered with CMC Amnesty International and Young Progressives Demanding Action: Claremont to host an event where students could call and write their senators in opposition to the executive order.
“I think that it is important to use our voices to support members of the Muslim community at this crucial time,” ¡Mi Gente! member Jeremy Anderson CM ’19 said. “Not only are some members of the Latinx community Muslim, but also, we are all struggling for fairness, respect, and equal protection under the law.”
Larissa Peltola CM ’18, co-president of CMC’s Amnesty International chapter, said of the event, “We wanted to oppose Trump’s Muslim ban, which is unconstitutional, unjust, and frankly goes against everything we stand for as the three organizations.”
“It goes against everything Americans and human beings should stand for,” she continued. “We’re calling our senators, calling our representatives, and demanding that they take action on behalf of human rights and human dignity across the world.”