People Then Politics

Hilbert College — The Committee for Diversity and Inclusion hosted a public forum to discuss the immigration ban issued by President Trump; featuring Dr. Andrew Kolin, a political science professor at Hilbert College as the keynote speaker.

Ahyana King, director of Multicultural Affairs at Hilbert, introduced Dr. Kolin, and also noted that HIlbert was helping to sponsor a family immigrating to Buffalo. Dr. Kolin began by stating that Trump had issued an executive order named, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To The United States”, along with a temporary travel ban on seven muslim-majority countries, the executive order serves as an indefinite shutdown on immigration from the country of Syria. No country involved with 9/11 or Saudi Arabia, a major proponent of terrorism, was included in the ban. “This ban had a short term motive, and was drafted by Steve Bannon, a mouthpiece of the party”, claimed Dr. Kolin.

Dr. Kolin then gave historical context of the ban, and some of the anti- immigration sentiments that have occurred throughout our country’s history. Restricting immigration out of fear began with “ The Alien and Sedition Acts and the age of Nativism. The 19th century saw the rise of the Know- Nothing Party, it was during this time that Italians were branded as terrorists and later placed in internment camps.” Asians also served as scapegoats of American fears in our past, resulting in the Chinese Exclusion Act, with interment and school segregation serving as clear examples of this policy of hatred. In 1924, Congress passed the “Immigration Act” which turned away Jewish refugees. Citing these examples, Dr. Kolin tried to illustrate that the “Land of Immigrants” has not always been very welcoming to immigrants and has often been afraid of “the other”.

He continued discussing the recent executive order, stating, “ the Attorney Generals of sixteen states filed to halt the ban, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled the ban

unconstitutional, on the grounds that it violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution, it also violates the state’s due process clause, as explained in the Fifth Amendment; and the individual’s right to due process noted in the 14th Amendment. In addition, the 1965 Immigration Law forbids discrimination based on nationality. The ban also violates provision of international law from the “United Nations Convention Against Torture”, granting civil and political rights for people that are emigrating.” Dr. Kolin also noted that it is in the best interest of the American people to allow refugees because, “birth rates are in decline and the US needs an infusion into the workforce that is vital to industries. According to the US Department of Labor, over 50% of farm labor is undocumented.” Similar numbers hold up in other industries as well, including the meat packing industry and various commercial services. “ Most of the 11 million immigrants earn under minimum wage, and the cost if they all left, would be 200 billion dollars annually.”

According to Dr. Kolin, “The main source of terrorism is caused by white supremacists, yet Trump called the Planned Parenthood attacker a maniac, if he had been a person of color he would likely be constantly saying that he was a terrorist, however there has been a rise in terrorist activity, especially by the KKK.” Trump is targeting the wrong demographic if he truly is concerned about the safety of the American people.

Dr. Kolin then shifted to talk about foreign policy, “The US is highly supportive of terrorism. The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation is supported by taxpayers and trains oppressive Latin American dictators. The United States is the top weapons buyer, dealer, military spender, has the greatest military presence, and is the greatest overthrower of governments.”  Dr. Kolin then quoted Martin Luther King Jr., “ The United States is the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.” “This ban is playing into the politics of fear, you have a 1 in 36 million chance of being killed by someone banned by the executive order, but in reality, it is US foreign policy that has contributed the most to the rise of ISIS. When polled, citizens in the Middle East are not as concerned about ISIS or other radical groups, “people are most afraid of terrorism committed by the United States and Israel.

In closing, Dr. Kolin pointed out that the ban was struck down as unconstitutional by President Bush appointees. He also cautioned that the executive branch has grown too powerful. During the question and answer period he anticipated that “Trump will likely seek an alternative method to implement the ban, the executive order was the fast track, he is now seeking to go after courts, and to silence the fourth estate.”

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