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As it Happened: Harvard Commencement 2023
Harvard affiliates flocked to Boston Logan International Airport and Copley Square this weekend to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order barring immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
On Saturday, students joined hundreds of people at Logan Airport who were protesting the executive order, which suspends immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days and bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States indefinitely. On Sunday, thousands packed the T's Green and Orange lines to Copley Square to attend the Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders, which was organized by the Council on American Islamic Relations.
At least two Harvard affiliates have been barred from traveling to the United States as a result of Trump’s order.
Students, faculty, and staff from Harvard joined the protests in Boston. About 15 students from the Harvard College Democrats attended the rally Sunday, and the Harvard Economics Department gathered both students and faculty to attend the event. Members of the department carried a sign with the words “Economists Support Immigrants.”
Assistant Professor of Economics Gautam Rao, who immigrated from India to the United States, said he felt that it was his “duty” to be there and that a lot of his “colleagues feel the same way.”
“As academics, we strongly, strongly support people being free to exchange ideas. We have students, we have colleagues from different countries and I myself am an immigrant,” he said. “There’s a reason the United States has the best universities in the world and it’s partly because there’s people from all over the world who are allowed to come here.”
Assistant Director of the Advising Programs Office Brooks B. Lambert-Sluder '05 also attended the rally, carrying a sign reading “This is Solidarity” on one side and “Refugees Welcome” on the other.
“I don’t think I would wear the label of being an activist over my life and I think now the nation is at somewhat of a crossroads,” Lambert-Sluder said. “I think the values of openness and welcoming refugees and a community of immigrants is incredibly important.”
Prominent political speakers including Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, and Representative Joe Kennedy also joined the protest at Copley Square and pledged support for immigrants and refugees in the face of Trump’s executive orders.
Kennedy School student Rana Abdelhamid emceed the protest at Copley Square and co-organized an “Emergency Rally” on campus Friday. She said the executive orders were shocking.
“The fact that you’re going to deny someone entry to a country simply because they come from another country is just clear discrimination,” Abdelhamid said.
Harvard affiliates also travelled to Logan Airport Saturday to participate in the protests happening there. Jonathan S. Roberts ’17 attended the airport rally with a group of College students.
“I would say there was a message of unity and love. One word that kept coming up was ‘solidarity’ and that we will be with our immigrant or Muslim or refugee brothers and sisters,” he said.
Ivy Yard Dean Michael C. Ranen, who was also at Logan Saturday, said the executive orders seemed “hastily done” and left many unanswered questions for international students.
“Harvard students and administration and staff and faculty are just going to have to continue to show support to each other, to our students, and try to answer any questions that we can,” Ranen said.
Devontae A. Freeland ’19 said the protest on Saturday was about more than just Trump’s executive order and immigration policies.
“It wasn’t just ‘No Ban, No Wall,’ which was one of the chants, but there were comments about reproductive rights, queer justices, Black Lives Matter chants, et cetera,” Freeland said. “It was a coming together of all these other coalitions that had existed in the past.”
Going forward, some of the activists said that organizing would continue to play an important role in resisting Trump’s policies. Abdelhamid called on students to support advocacy organizations such as CAIR and Jetpac Inc., the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Muslim Justice League.
—Staff writer Alice S. Cheng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alicescheng.
—Staff writer Kristine E. Guillaume can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @krisguillaume.
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