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Trump’s Executive Order affects refugees close to home
President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees access into America from the countries Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has sparked upheaval across the world.
It is clear that this ban affects millions of immigrant Americans and refugees all over the world, but it also affects graduate and undergraduate students on college campuses across the country, even on this campus. One of those students is Fayez Mudawi.
Mudawi is a 49 year old graduate student and refugee from Sudan who came to America three years ago. He is studying journalism at Quinnipiac. Mudawi sent his family to America first because he felt they were not safe in Sudan.
Mudawi’s story starts in Sudan where he had been leading a newspaper to support Southern Sudanese people, supporting their self determination. The Sudanese government shut down the newspaper and banned Mudawi from writing and working in Sudan.
“The Sudanese government had been targeting me for my political ideas,” Mudawi said. “I am a journalist heading a newspaper, ‘Ajrass Alhurya,’ meaning ‘Freedom Bells.’”
On Monday, Jan. 30, Mark Thompson, executive vice president of Quinnipiac University, sent out an email to the entire student body offering resources and links for students to access if they have any questions or concerns about the safety of themselves, their study or their peers concerning the immigration ban. The Student Government Association (SGA) sent out a similar email soon after.
In the email, Thompson stated that for most students, the Executive Order will not impact the ability to study at Quinnipiac.
The email stated that if you, or someone you know, is living in or is a citizen of one of the seven countries that are included in the Executive Order, it is recommended that you check in with the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement (DCGE) located in the Center for Communications and Engineering (LA 206) prior to making any travel plans.
Thompson also said that for students who may be covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Children Arrivals) or are currently undocumented, staff in the DCGE can connect you to local resources such as CT Students for a Dream and American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Thompson said he had multiple reasons for sending the email. One of those reasons was to remind students about QU’s mission statement of inclusion of all people.
“It was making sure people understood we were in a position to help if necessary and try to give them some direction about where they would go,” he said.
His primary concern was the students who would be impacted by the travel ban and in need of resources and support.
“I know sometimes people describe our student body as apathetic in many ways, but I don’t believe that,” Thompson said. “Any time I have the opportunity to do something I feel is in service to the entire student body or portions of it, I think it is our responsibility to follow through.”
Malawi said that the executive order put him as a suspect and as a victim. He wants the people who contributed in issuing the Executive Order to think again.
“It criminalizes all those innocent citizens who come from my country,” he said. “By this policy, they are punishing us twice. Most of the refugees are direct victims to terrorism, they are either politicians or activists or are escaping from the war against them launched by the Islamic regime.”
Malawi said he came to America to be free, not to be a prisoner or to be accused.
“I am a freedom fighter, if the American government treats me as guilty or as a terrorist, I will not put myself in that situation,” he said. “I am struggling for our freedom, therefore I am denying to be under any restrictions or as a hostage.”
Malawi is worried about his son and daughter but knows they will be proud when they know their father has chosen his dignity and humanity.
“Yes, the majority of us are Muslim, but we are not terrorists.”
Thompson said the only thing the university can do is inform students and provide guidance in terms of what it understands the federal law to be at this point. In the email, Thompson said he will keep students updated as laws and policies may change down the road.
“I have a lot of confidence in the student body, I’m really proud of them. I do think that they seek to support one another and I would just ask that they continue to do so.”