Dear Concerned Members of the Georgetown Law Community:
Last semester, in anticipation of the general election, the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA), with the support of Campus Ministry, hosted “Hoodies to Hijabs: A Necessary Conversation About Race, Religion, and Politics” in hopes of facilitating dialogue surrounding the impact of racism and xenophobia in our political climate. In addition to emphasizing the unique experience of black Muslim immigrants whose identities lie at the intersection of marginalized racial and religious groups, audience members and panelists were challenged to embrace their role as both symbolic and action-oriented allies in the fight for equality and justice for all.
President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive order presents the unfortunate opportunity for us all to rise to the occasion. Callously named “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the order proclaims that admitting immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.” The order imposes a cruel, illegal, and unconstitutionally discriminatory 90-day ban on refugees and immigrants from 7 majority Muslim nations: Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, and Sudan. This ban has already had extremely painful consequences. Travelers from the specified countries are being detained, children are being separated from their parents, and refugees are being forced to re-board planes, a blatant violation of international law. The immediate firing of acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates after she instructed the Justice Department not to defend the executive order on Constitutional grounds signals the beginning of an era in which anyone with dissenting views from the executive branch is removed, silenced, or otherwise incapacitated, stripping away the balance of power we have long fought to maintain in this country.
During these trying times, we are reminded that building coalitions across marginalized communities is fundamental to protecting the inalienable rights of all those who call or dream of calling this country home. In light of the Trump Administration’s already evident failure to represent an increasingly diverse national population, we have the responsibility to resist policies that threaten to destroy our families, communities, and lives. And, resist we must. The key to our collective progress is focusing on the ultimate goal-- providing full protection of civil and human rights in the US and beyond-- and refusing to be deterred by periodic, yet predictable, backlash and retrenchment.
Additionally, we must expose and denounce the current administration’s false and dehumanizing characterization of immigration. From this country’s founding fathers to the millions of immigrants who sought refuge in the US post-World War II to the modern flow of international students to universities nationwide, this country has been defined by its ability to leverage the immense human resources immigration provides. Allowing fear and discrimination to tarnish this legacy is simply not an option. We have already seen the barriers to entry at our airports. We must not wait until physical walls are erected before we demand an end to the division of our nation and the inhumane exclusion of those who seek refuge within our borders.
In the spirit of true patriotism, we demand our government abandon its draconian and inhumane immigration policies. We implore the government to review US history and remember how refusing sanctuary to those in need has had disastrous effects-- including the annihilation of innocent men, women, and children. We beseech the government to adopt policies that remain loyal to the global community’s refusal to allow such atrocities to reoccur and to this country’s founding principles of liberty and justice for all.
As members of the Georgetown community, we call on our administration, faculty, and student body to stand in solidarity with those directly and indirectly impacted by the actions of this administration. These ignorant and cruel policies not only threaten the very moral fabric of our nation but also the security of all who live here or are nationals of our great country. In the words of Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in times of oppression, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Gone are the times of complacency. We entreat you to choose wisely.
In the meantime: please join us and other law students from across D.C. at 4:00pm tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 1 at the Clock Tower Green on Georgetown Law’s campus to march to the Department of Justice in protest of the Trump Administration’s attacks on immigrants, the removal of Sally Yates, and to demand the rule of law: https://www.facebook.com/events/1297258620355113/.
If you cannot attend Wednesday’s march, we ask you to join us at the “No Wall, No Ban” protest on Saturday, February 6, 2017 from 1 - 4 pm at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave https://www.facebook.com/events/1284964501596690/.
Georgetown's Black Law Students Association and Muslim Law Student Association
To sign-on in support of this letter and to learn more about BLSA and MLSA’s upcoming social justice initiatives, please submit your information at the following link: https://docs.google.com/a/georgetown.edu/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe1Li3ztPcrSdZpFQETJGEr7O7dOXVY9dtMZP09eTUYa1l-Q/viewform
To Concerned Members of Georgetown’s Black Law Students Association and the Larger Global
On November 8, 2016, Americans voted to elect the 45th President of the United States. Despite Hillary
Clinton winning the popular vote, Donald J. Trump, a candidate whose divisive rhetoric has incited fear,
anger, and despair in millions of Americans, earned enough electoral votes to claim the title of America’s
With two months left of President Barack Obama’s last term in office, many question what can be done
between now and Trump’s inauguration to mitigate the potentially devastating implications of our new
political reality. Before looking to the future, we must reflect on the past to place this moment in
In 1968, just four years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act, three years after the passage of the
Voting Rights Act, and seven months after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, Richard M. Nixon
was elected our 37th President by appealing to America’s “silent” but socially conservative majority.
Soon after, he waged an assault on black and brown communities, labeled the Black Panther Party for
Self Defense the greatest threat to our national security, and perpetuated the war in Vietnam.
Communities of color have yet to fully overcome the impact of Nixon’s administration and his
successor’s brutal response to the advances made during the Civil Rights Movement. Tuesday’s decision
reflects the sentiments many Americans, particularly members of that same silent majority, feel about the
symbolic and tangible empowerment of minority communities in recent years.
Moving forward, we must anticipate and respond to any actions taken by the government and private
actors that will prove detrimental to the progress made for and by discrete and insular communities. We
will offer increased and organized resistance. By collaborating with other organizations similarly
committed to promoting justice, diversity, and inclusion on our campus and beyond, we will prove
ourselves stronger than the hate that threatens our very existence. We will inform ourselves, empower
ourselves, and stand in unity against xenophobia, racism, sexism, and oppression. We cannot be
bystanders; we must be allies. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, “Human progress is neither
automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and
struggle--the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
In the immediate aftermath of this election, however, we recognize the need to come together in
solidarity for emotional and psychological support. Georgetown Law has offered several resources.
Gewirz 12th Floor will serve as a gathering space today from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm, and McDonough 520
will be open to the community on Friday, November 11, from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.
For those who wish to talk individually or privately, we encourage you to visit or call the Office of the
Dean of Students (McDonough 210, 202-662-4066), the Office of Equity, Community and Inclusion
(McDonough 214, 202-661-6621), or the Office of Campus Ministry (McDonough 113, 202-662-9296).
BLSA’s executive board is also available to be a listening ear. We hope that you will find solace in the
recognition that without struggle there can be no progress. Today, as always, our righteous struggle for
freedom and equality continues.
Georgetown’s Black Law Students Association