Immigration

Faculty Senate wants BGSU to become a welcome campus

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News No pickets showed up for Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting advocating for Bowling Green State University be designated a sanctuary campus. A crowd was expected for the on-call session, which is on the calendar but seldom convened. Much to the dismay of a dozen or so students and faculty gathered for the proceedings, signs at the entryway to the assembly room advised that the seats were saved for senators. Once roll was called Rachelle Kristof Hippler, who chairs the senate, invited them in to fill whatever empty seats were left. Aside from reports from President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers, the only item on the agenda was a resolution calling for BGSU to become a welcome campus. The change in the wording from “sanctuary” to “welcome,” was intentional. Asked to explain the difference Christina Guenther, who introduced the resolution and had called for the session last time senate met, said that being a welcome campus better aligned with the Not In Our Town efforts. The term also was “less loaded in terms of associations,” said the professor of German. A bill, supported by U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), has been introduced in the U.S. House calling for sanctions against sanctuary cities. Regardless of the term used, the senate after no action on the issue the previous two times it met, passed the resolution 46-6 with one abstention. The resolution was a softer version than the original petition. This time, Mazey choose not to express her opposition, though after the meeting she said she was not ready to say she approved. The resolution contained issues, especially regarding campus police, that she would have to discuss with her cabinet, including the university counsel. The resolution was amended before being passed. A provision requiring Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Immigrant and Customs officials on campus for recruiting be dressed in plain clothes and be unarmed was stricken from the resolution. Valeria Grinberg Pla, of Romance Languages, said that their presence “might very much frighten people…


BGSU senate approves Welcoming Campus resolution

The Bowling Green State University Faculty Senate Tuesday afternoon passed a resolution calling for BGSU a Welcoming Campus. The vote was 46-6 in favor. The resolution as presented represented a somewhat softer version of the sanctuary campus proposal discussed earlier. The resolution was further changed by striking a provision calling for Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Immigrant and Customs officials on campus for recruiting to be in plain clothes and unarmed. Unlike in previous meetings President Mary Ellen Mazey did not state opposition to the resolution in her remarks at the beginning of the meeting. Afterward she said she would have to talk with members of her cabinet including university counsel before stating whether she approved of the resolutions. The use of the term “welcoming” instead of “sanctuary” was both to align with Not In Our Town and to evade sanctions being proposed against sanctuary communities.


Political scientist argues opening borders, resettling refugees are a moral imperative

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   While the president of the United States talks about building a wall to keep people out, political scientist Joseph Carens believes borders should be thrown open. “We have to use overt force to prevent people from moving,” he said. “We need borders and barriers and guards to keep out people who want to build a decent life for themselves and their children. And that is something we can change. At least we can let more people in. Our refusal to do so is a choice we make, and one that prevents them from having a chance at a decent life.” Carens, who spoke on “Immigration Controversies: Migrants, Refugees and Open Borders” Feb. 16 at Bowling Green State University bases his argument on the belief that “all human beings are equal” and have “equal moral worth.” His talk was hosted by the Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law Program. Yet, he said, the conventional view that states control who can come in and out means that the opportunities for human beings, especially those from impoverished and politically unstable states, are not equal. “Freedom of movement is essential to the freedom of equal opportunity,” Carens said. He sees no rationale for someone to be able to travel unhindered to Boston or Los Angeles, but then go through border checks to go to Toronto. Any system of restrictions, he said, should take into account the interests of all parties involved including immigrants. It is not enough to say an immigration regime that restricts who can come in and out and enforces that with guns, guards and barriers is valid simply because it benefits the people who currently reside within a state. Carens equated the current approach to immigration to feudalism. In feudalism one’s ability to enrich oneself was based on birth, in that case whether one was born a noble or a peasant. He conceded that the likelihood is slight that the conventional approach to immigration will change. But just as with feudalism or slavery, another institution…


BG Police Division is not an arm of ICE

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Police Division is not in the pursuit of undocumented immigrants. “People think the police division is an arm of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” said Major Justin White. “That misinformation breeds fear.” To try to calm those fears, Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick has met with members of the Latino organization La Conexion, and White has met with students and staff at the English Language Center at Bowling Green State University. “We are not out enforcing immigration, determining if someone should be here,” White said. “We are not stopping people driving down the street who look like immigrants to see if they belong here.” Across the nation, anxiety spiked recently after a series of raids made by U.S. immigration authorities. Hundreds of undocumented immigrants in several states have been arrested, according to President Donald Trump as part of his crackdown on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records. Last month, Trump broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all. That has led to fear throughout the country, and has led to a petition calling for BGSU to become a sanctuary campus. White said it is his understanding that international students have nothing to fear. “In order for them to get accepted into BGSU, they would have to have the proper paperwork,” he said. The Bowling Green Police Division has worked with ICE in the past, probably once or twice a year, White estimated. “Basically our role would be to assist them in their investigation,” he said. In his 16 years on the force, White said he has worked with ICE just once. That case involved a BGSU graduate student who reportedly was making threats and had “suspicious” documentation. “We investigated” initially, he said. Then the border patrol and FBI stepped in. “They took the investigation over.” The suspect…


Still no action in Faculty Senate on sanctuary petition

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Bowling Green State University Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday unfolded much as the January session had. Senators were greeted by a gauntlet of protestors outside McFall, and then when the senate convened the sign-carrying demonstrators lined the assembly hall quietly and listened through President Mary Ellen Mazey’s remarks. And when she addressed the issue they were concerned about, a request for a sanctuary campus, they heard the same stance. The university must adhere to the law. But the university will do everything within the parameters of the law to assist foreign students and faculty as well as students with status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The university has 11 DACA students and 21 with visas or green cards from the seven countries covered by the travel ban. Mazey has publicly supported proposed federal legislation, the BRIDGE Act that would extent DACA status to people who were brought to the country illegally as children. On Tuesday, Mazey announced she joined 600 other higher education leaders in signing a letter opposing the travel ban issued by the administration. While acknowledging the need to “safeguard” the country, the letter states the signatories also recognize “the need for the United States to remain the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest students, faculty, and scholars.” This openness promotes American values abroad as well as promoting scientific and technological advances, the letter states. When asked, Mazey would not speculate on what action the university would take if these legislative and lobbying efforts failed. Professor Francisco Cabanillas then asked if those efforts fail “would we have to say yes in our town” to immigration officials checking the status of students and faculty, referencing the Not In Our Town anti-bias program that Mazey help found. Mazey reiterated that all students and faculty are here legally, so she doesn’t see why immigration officials would come to BGSU. “We have confidence in the law.” But for those pushing for sanctuary status that is not enough. Outside before the meeting,…


Community stands with Muslims over travel ban

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   During his 35 years in the U.S., Imam Talal Eid said he has never criticized an American president. Even during the campaign, when Donald Trump made hateful statements about Muslims, Eid held his tongue. “He’s the president, I’m sure things will be OK,” Eid said once Trump took office. Then came the executive order that effectively banned Muslims from seven countries from entering the U.S. And Eid, director of religious affairs at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg Township, cautioned church officials to pray for the divided nation but not criticize Trump. But then the stories came of families separated, Muslims returned to dangerous lands, people’s lives at risk. “I started to hear the tragedies,” Eid said. “I broke my silence. Innocent people are being harmed in the name of our nation.” Eid spoke Sunday afternoon to a mosque crowded with members and strangers who wanted to offer their support in the face of the travel ban. The audience overflowed out of the sermon room into prayer room. “This is the first time that I feel that my country, my president is trying to kill the morale of innocent people,” he said. He spoke of the agony that families already go through to get entry into the U.S. “You may not be aware that people sell their homes to come to America and have a good life,” the Imam said. Eid said he  has always clung to the Constitution, which is guided by the belief that people are all created equal. “I always speak of the ethics of the Constitution.” But that document appears to be under attack, as are Muslims, he said. “Isn’t it true that Muslims are not the only immigrants,” Eid said, noting that Muslim Americans contribute to their communities. He is not opposed to measures that are truly intended to keep America safe – but this travel ban will only act as ammunition for those who hate the U.S., he said. People being turned away from…


Jewish groups: “We pray for those who wish to come here and live in peace, but are denied safe harbor”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo and the Jewish Community Relations Council are troubled by the recent Executive Order against refugees looking to come to the USA to escape the horrors of their war-torn countries. Historically, we are a country of immigrants who came to these shores to escape the horrors of war, to seek religious freedom, and to earn better opportunities for our families and succeeding generations. Jews have made innumerable contributions to American culture, arts, entertainment, science, government and more areas, and continue to do so. There were times when Jews were turned away from these shores. Like Moses, who saw the land and was not allowed to enter, we pray for those who wish to come here and live in peace, but are denied safe harbor. We urge President Trump and his administration to come to a resolution soon and to allow another generation of future citizens to add their uniqueness to the melting pot that is America. “You shall not wrong nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:20) Signed, ­­ Gary Delman, President, JFGT Scott Rothstein, Chair, JCRC


Protesting immigration edict at Detroit airport was a matter of family values

By KIRSTY SAYER BG Independent News Our van stuffed with kids aged 5 to 16 was light hearted as we brainstormed sign slogans and passed around Sharpies. But as we approached Detroit Metro airport there came inevitable pre-teen groan – “this is going to be so awkward”. Like any mom with pre-teens and teens, I’m always ready with an annoying comeback to deflect the predictable sighs of the all too horrifying prospect of “awkward”. “Yeah, maybe, imagine how awkward it must be to be stuck in an airport when you are five and kept away from your mom though? Or hey how about how awkward it must be to go to another country on business and find out you couldn’t return home a week later? “Besides, it’s good to get out of your comfort zone, and to do stuff with other people in mind. It makes you feel alive. You’ll survive.  Let’s go.” As we approached the airport, the snow started falling heavily and we wondered if we would find that the protest had been downgraded to a few people milling around wondering “if this thing was still on.” Judge Donnelly’s emergency “stay” the night before had led many on the Facebook group to question if the crisis was over and that perhaps we could save our protests for the next outrage. Others assured us all that people were still being detained in airports, that the stay was incomplete and temporary and that they should come in solidarity with protests being held in different airports. In short, we had no idea what type of crowd we would find after our 75-mile drive. As we approached long-term parking we started seeing them. Throngs of people, bundled up, carrying the tell-tale brightly colored signs instead of brief cases or wheeled luggage. The voices in the car reflected relieved enthusiasm. “Look! There are others! Hey check out that sign, that one is good.” “OK this might be better than I was imagining, wow there are tons of people”. That sense of relief. That sense of being united…


Mazey pledges support for DACA, international students in wake of executive order on immigration

Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey issued  the following statement this morning.   Students, Faculty, and Staff: Fostering a culture of inclusion is a core value of Bowling Green State University. Our University community is greatly enriched by our international students and faculty, and by students who were admitted under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. BGSU recognizes that a number of members of our University community face uncertainty about their immigration status or U.S. visas. I want to assure you that BGSU will do everything it can to support them and advocate on their behalf. Last Friday, President Trump issued a new executive order that, among other things, temporarily bans citizens of seven countries from entering the United States. Like other universities across the country, we are still evaluating the executive order and its ramifications. We have reached out to affected students and advised them not to make plans to leave the U.S. until there is more clarity on the issue. Students, faculty or staff with questions can contact Marcia Salazar-Valentine with International Programs and Partnerships at international@bgsu.edu or at  419-372-2247. The Counseling Center is also available to provide support and resources. BGSU will be advocating for affected students and all members of our international community with our representatives in Congress and in collaboration with Ohio’s Inter-University Council, the Association of American Universities, and other higher education organizations. As some of you may know, DACA students are individuals who immigrated to the U.S. as young children. They grew up here, but are not U.S. citizens. Last month, I joined the presidents of the member institutions of Ohio’s Inter-University Council in signing a letter of support for the bi-partisan Bridge Act now before the U.S. Senate. The measure would provide university students admitted under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with work authorization and provisional protected status from deportation. While President Trump indicated last week in an interview with ABC News that he is not interested in pursuing deportation or other actions against DACA…


BG stands together with banned immigrants

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This is not the America to which Lady Liberty welcomed the huddled masses. This is not the country where Gale Swanka grew up, or for which Mohammad Shalabe left his homeland. But this is becoming the America where people like Swanka, Shalabe and crowds across the nation are being motivated to stand together to protest executive orders from President Donald Trump. In Bowling Green, more than 250 gathered Sunday evening in the green space at West Wooster and South Church streets to rise up, resist and rebel. They came bundled for the cold, carrying signs reading “No hate, no fear. Everyone is welcome here.” Or “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.” They chanted, “No ban. No wall,” and “We need a leader – not a creepy tweeter.” They came with concerns, even shame, over their country’s latest actions against natives of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. “I know what it means to be left out,” said Dr. Eileen Cherry-Chandler, an African American woman who held a sign saying, “I’m with the banned.” Cherry-Chandler said she was outraged at Trump’s ban on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for three months, and an extended ban on Syrian refugees. “These people are innocent. These people are fleeing from ISIS,” she said. “We need Muslims in order to win this war on terror.” Cherry-Chandler has been horrified by Trump’s actions in his first week in office. “He thinks he’s a king and he can issue decrees,” she said. “That isn’t happening. I’m just delighted that people are standing up to him. That’s the least we can do. It’s good to know people are awake and aware.” Swanka has also been troubled by Trump’s executive orders – from building a wall along the Mexican border to banning the refugees – all “ridiculous policies,” she said. “I wanted to give the president the benefit of the doubt and it’s just not working,” Swanka said. As the crowd gathered for…


BG votes to condemn discrimination of Muslims

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG  Independent News   Bowling Green was told it could be better – and City Council accepted the challenge. The failure of a sanctuary campus proposal at BGSU Tuesday afternoon was followed by the passage of an anti-discrimination resolution by BG City Council that same evening. One by one, students of color walked to the podium at the packed city council meeting, to tell of their negative experiences and their positive hopes. “I came from a country where I was tear gassed,” during the Arab Spring uprisings, said Amira Hassnaoui, a BGSU student from Tunisia. She came to a country where she could be free – or so she believed. “This is a dream land where everybody can be who they are.” There is no tear gas here, but Hassnaoui is again finding herself fighting for rights. “I’m going to fight for social justice in the U.S.,” and speak out for those unable to, she said. Hassnaoui, who is president of the BGSU Graduate Student Senate, said while she does not wear a hijab, some of her Muslim friends do. She told of walking around a local business, and being followed then questioned by the manager. “This resolution should be passed. Nobody should walk in fear because of who they are,” she told city council. Hassnaoui said she worries about her mother and brother traveling to the U.S. for her graduation. Her mother wears a hijab and does not speak English, and her brother is dark skinned. Though the hate crimes reported around the nation have not occurred here in Bowling Green, Hassnaoui said the resolution could prevent those incidents from happening. “I do believe we don’t have to wait for a situation to occur,” she said. She also reminded council of the importance of students in the city. “We should provide a safe space for our international students. If these students do not feel safe,” they will go elsewhere and there will be an economic loss for the city, she said. The resolution passed by…


Mazey rejects sanctuary campus proposal

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Several dozen  protestors, a mix of students, faculty and community residents, lined the sidewalk leading to the main entrance of McFall ready to greet those arriving for Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting to support making Bowling Green State University a sanctuary campus. The petition calls on the university to refuse to cooperate with immigration officials in deporting anyone in the country without proper documents, to not assist any federal officers in gathering information about immigration status, and to “require that on-campus recruiters from the Department of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement use civilian clothing, bring no weapons, and drive no official vehicles.” The protestors wanted the senate to support the petition, but Michaela Walsh, who originated it, said the senate’s executive committee did not place it on the agenda. She said a senator could bring it up under the issues portion of the agenda. That did not happen. The idea is to pressure President Mary Ellen Mazey and the university’s board of trustees to support the sanctuary plan. In her address to the senate, Mazey said she did not support the petition. As a public institution, the university required to obey the law. In an interview after the meeting, Mazey said that the university will continue to support students covered by the provisions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, just as it supports all students. Mazey said there are 11 DACA students on campus, and noted that they received state aid. She said her decision was made based on what the petition asked for and that would be against federal law. “We’ll do everything we can to ensure the safety of our students and to ensure that we will comply with regulations here at Bowling Green State University,” Mazey said. She and other university presidents support the BRIDGE Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate in December, which would provide provisional protection for people with DACA status. In her remarks, Mazey said, that 68 percent of the university…