UCSD groups unite to protest Trump’s immigration ban

Organizer Hamoun Dolatshahi and MSA VP Nadah Feteih lead students in protest against the executive action. (Curtis Yee / The Triton)

Approximately five hundred people gathered on Library Walk this afternoon to rally in response to President Trump’s executive order on immigration, banning all refugees and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. The march, initiated by two roommates and organized with help from their friends, was an effort to build solidarity among students in light of what many are recognizing as a “Muslim ban.”

The participants met at Silent Tree at noon and began chanting, “No ban, no wall,” carrying signs and listening to professors and students share their stories, some who immigrated from countries targeted by the executive order. Participants marched from the Silent Tree to Revelle Plaza, chanting, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here,” and “From Palestine to Mexico, border walls have got to go.”

Joel Goldsmith, a fourth-year in ERC, said he and his roommate Hamoun Dolatshahi, a fourth-year in Muir, reacted to Trump’s executive order by spending the last two days organizing a protest.

“You can’t tell me that this is a Middle East problem. This is all of our problems,” said Dolatshahi during the protest. “I want to stand here with everyone and tell the world, tell UCSD, and tell San Diego that we are not divided, and we are together, and we still stand against racist policies that dehumanize Muslims.”

One of the goals of the march, Goldsmith said, is to urge the university to form policies in response to the ban to protect students and faculty affected by it.

“We would like to see UC San Diego not take [someone’s country of origin] into consideration when considering applications,” Goldsmith said. “We would like a guarantee from UC San Diego to allow them to finish their education regardless as to whether their immigrant status changes.”

Members of the Muslim Student Association, Hillel at UCSD, the Lumumba Zapata Collective, and the UC Teaching Assistants Union supported the protest.

“I am standing up for democracy. I oppose fascism and I oppose the executive order by President Trump to ban travel from seven countries where this is a large population of Muslim people,” Nan Renner, a UCSD Cognitive Science lecturer said. “It’s a denial of the Geneva Convention, it’s a denial of human rights, and it’s an act of profound cruelty that reveals his lack of human decency.”

Lecturer Nan Renner holds a sign: "We the people. We the power." (Curtis Yee / The Triton)

Lecturer Nan Renner holds a sign: “We the people. We the power.” (Curtis Yee / The Triton)

A Persian American student, who requested to remain anonymous, believes that the executive order exploits the fears of people who don’t have close connections to refugees. His father escaped from Iran in the early 1980s and was granted UN political refugee protections.

“I think people make the mistake of conflating refugees with the country they escaped or its government,” said the student. “Just as it’s ridiculous to say Castro reflects the views of Cuban refugees, it’s absurd to claim that any terrorist group or dictatorship reflects the views of middle eastern refugees. My dad hates the Iranian government; that is the precise reason he left.”

The UC Office of the President issued a statement on Jan. 29, saying that, “While maintaining the security of the nation’s visa system is critical, this executive order is contrary to the values we hold dear as leaders of the University of California.” Signed by all chancellors of UC campuses and UC President Janet Napolitano, the statement included said, “We are committed to supporting all members of the UC community who are impacted by this executive action.”

Shine Cho, Aleena Karamally, and Gabriel Schneider contributed reporting to this article.

Natasha Vyhovsky is a News writer for The Triton.