Human Rights

Immigration lawyers break down immigration rights for international students

Photo by Heather Willard
Written by Erin Franczak

Immigration lawyers, Ken Robinson, Bano Itayim and Beth Kaufman, hosted a presentation on the potential effects of President Donald Trump’s executive order banning individuals from select Middle Eastern countries. The presentation is a follow-up from a forum in January where students requested legal advice from international attorneys.

Robinson and Itayim are employed through the Slowik & Robinson Firm, LLC, and Kaufman is the Attorney General Counsel at Ohio University.

“We want to be here to support you, and to answer questions and to remove uncertainty when we can,” said Kaufman on the university’s role.

The event covered the three main sections of Trump’s executive order that apply to immigration and international students. Trump proposed enhancing public safety, increasing border security and enforcement, and protecting the nation from terrorism by isolating the U.S. from seven countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

For each section, Itayim and Robinson explained what was problematic for international students and immigrants.

The lawyers informed the audience that enhancing public safety would entail registering undocumented immigrants and hiring more immigration officers. The executive order states 5,000 additional immigration patrol officers will be hired. Moreover, increasing border security and enforcement would result in the border wall and a facility for detaining immigrants rather than a “catch and release system,” as Itayim and Robinson called it.

Robinson said the major problem with the executive order’s strategy is the government’s struggle to employ reputable workers. In order to make the strategy feasible, Robinson said the vetting process for hiring patrol officers would have to be less in-depth and long-term.

“We are going to have less qualified border protection agents and there are also going to be border patrol agents who are going to be onboarded with weaker background checks,” Robinson said. “They’re going to have to lessen the standards to qualify if they’re going to try to get those numbers.”

The last section of the executive order, protecting the nation from terrorism, was where the travel ban was detailed out and implemented.

Furthermore, Robinson and Itayim explained the concepts of security communities, which is a system that notifies an immigration agent when an immigrant has been fingerprinted and booked. This subject led to a conversation about international student protests.

“You certainly have the right to protest. Should you choose to protest, you need to make sure you abide by all of the rules and laws,” Itayim said.

Robinson and Itayim said that Trump’s administration may cause slower and more expensive immigration processes, as well as making it harder to travel. Itayim and Robinson also discussed potential situations of being at the border, such as asking personal questions, being placed into a secondary inspection and search of personal phones, bags and laptops. The two also suggested that students, and people in general, not sign any immigration documents without legal advice.

The sponsors, International Student and Faculty Services and the Office of Global Affairs, plan to upload the video recording of the event soon.

About the author

Erin Franczak

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