Home Life and Arts How Texas State students are affected by the immigration ban

How Texas State students are affected by the immigration ban

Dana Rinaudo, biology junior and vice president of the Muslim Student Association of Texas State, discusses the importance of understanding among different groups of people Feb. 10. She welcomes visitors who want to learn more about Islam to the San Marcos Masjid.
Photo by: Nathalie Cohetero | Staff Photographer

President Donald Trump’s immigration ban directly affects numerous people around the world—and 22 of them are right here at Texas State University.

The travel ban, originally signed into order Jan. 27, suspended entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries and halted admission of all Syrian refugees into the U.S. for 120 days.

However, a federal judge blocked President Trump’s immigration ban and the State Department reversed the cancellations of 60,000 previously revoked visas. This led the Department of Homeland Security to suspend all implementations of the order and resume standard inspection of travelers.

The Trump Administration and the Department of Justice filed an appeal to restore the immigration order, but the appeal court denied the request. However, the future of immigrants is still uncertain.

In a response to the travel ban, Texas State University President Denise Trauth released a statement Jan. 31. She announced that 18 students, two visiting scholars and two faculty members have been directly affected by the policy.

The International Office at Texas State personally reached out to those affected at the university. Staff members organized a tea and discussion event Feb. 8 to support the international students.

“We will continue to support all of our international students from around the world,” said Ryan Buck, assistant vice president of International Affairs. “Our university is a very special place as we remain steadfastly committed to diversity as one of our core institutional values.”

Fatima Al-Dhahi, PACE Peer Mentor and applied sociology senior, said some of her family members moved from Iraq to America to escape the Gulf War in the ‘90s.

Al-Dhahi has family from all over the world; she and her parents had to call around after the ban was announced to see who was safe.

Her uncle, green card holder, is currently in Baghdad and cannot return back to America because of the policy.

“He has been working on getting his citizenship for so long, and now that’s being halted,” Al-Dhahi said.

Some of  Al-Dhahi’s family members from California had plans to fly over to the Middle East to visit family they haven’t seen in years, but the immigration order forced them to cancel plane tickets.

Al-Dhahi said she is concerned that history is repeating itself with the immigration ban. She related some of Trump’s executive decisions to those of Nazi Germany.

“I feel like it is going to increase division in our country,” Al-Dhahi said. “If Trump continues to push so much and the government supports him in that, it’s going to blow up into World War III.”

Dana Rinaudo, biology junior, said she is the vice president of the Muslim Student Association at Texas State. MSA hosted a protest against President Trump’s travel ban Feb. 2 in the Quad.

“A lot of our members are from those Arab countries,” Rinaudo said. “We have a lot of friends and family members that are either here and can’t leave or are there and can’t come back.”

Rinaudo said some of her family friends who had plans to visit Syria cannot leave the U.S. even though they are green card holders.

“It fed into how there is still a side of America that still fears all Muslims are terrorists,” Rinaudo said. “Even though I was born and raised here, it still feels like I’m being isolated as a Muslim.”

Rinaudo said improving screening processes would have been a better alternative to banning seven Muslim-majority countries from entrance into the U.S. The ban generalizes all Middle Eastern people when only a small percentage has been radical.

Some of Rinaudo’s friends have chosen not to cover up with hijabs on campus in fear that they will be targeted.

“We always have to take an extra step and be cautious just because of our religion,” Rinaudo said.

Those who are afraid of Muslims on campus should get to know those students and realize they are essentially the same, Rinaudo said. Stereotypes and fear could be forgotten if Islamophobic people sit down and have a conversation with a Muslim.

“I felt like with Obama’s administration, we were actually progressing as a society,” Rinaudo said. “With Trump, I feel like we will take a couple steps back.”

MSA typically holds meetings at the San Marcos Masjid, a house that has been converted into a mosque.

“We all feel safe because it’s like our house away from our house,” Rinaudo said. “Even though our Muslim population is very diverse, we all feel like brothers and sisters.”

Clay Smith, manager of the San Marcos Masjid, said he felt obligated to purchase fire insurance for the masjid because of the recent mosque fires in Victoria and Lake Travis.

“If there’s one thing I’d like people to know about Muslims, it’s that the Muslim is a person whose neighbor does not fear harm from him,” Smith said.