Tulane students unite against President Trump’s visa and immigration ban


Emily Fornoff | Staff Photographer

Students and faculty rally on the steps of McAlister Auditorium in a demonstration defending immigrant rights.

Emily Fornof
Students and staff stand together against President Trump’s immigration and visa ban

Posters lined the steps of McAlister Auditorium, waiting to be picked up by demonstrators eager to stand against President Donald Trump’s immigration and visa ban on Thursday, Feb. 9.

Students, faculty, staff and others circled up from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to stand in solidarity against President Trump’s immigration and visa ban.  This rally, known as the Academics United Rally, was a national event that occurred at that same time across the country.

Part of the national initiative said, “In the midst of this difficult time we look to you, our friends and colleagues, to stand here with us.”

Graduate student Vanessa Casteñeda and Director for the Office of International Students and Scholars Kristy Magner led the space where students and faculty shared their thoughts and experiences about the ban.

Most of the speakers were international students and faculty. According to Magner, there are 24 students at Tulane from countries affected by Trump’s travel ban.

“I was looking for a purpose, I was looking for an opportunity and hope,” graduate student Hala Kershah said during the rally. “This is not a war on terrorism, it is a war on Islam … Racism and bigotry are cancers that spread. America taught me love, acceptance, and tolerance.”

Students and staff from various countries shared their experiences, and their thoughts on the Trump administration and people’s perceptions of immigrants.  Most of the dialogue focused on Middle Eastern and Latin American countries.

At one point in the event, a prospective student visiting for the weekend, came forward. He shared his story and thoughts, and he explained how the event showed him that this was a school that would welcome people like him.

A clothesline, filled with thoughts from participants, was tied between posts next to the auditorium during the rally.

Emily Fornof
A clothesline of comments from organizers, participants and passer-byes.

“People are sometimes afraid to speak either because they’re not an immigrant or they’re white or they’re just afraid of public speaking, so this is another way to be able to say something,” Casteñeda said.

Toward the end of the rally, Casteñeda lead the crowd through chants, including, “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here,” and, “No ban, no wall, justice for all.”

“I hope that people do commit, put pressure on the administration, put pressure on peers, put pressure on the faculty [and] on their family, and I hope that — especially right now — in this moment of legalized, justified hate, [people] stand up and do not allow that to penetrate society,” Casteñeda said. 

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