The Center for Diversity and Community hosted a campus forum on President Trump’s latest executive order concerning immigration and a travel ban from several Middle Eastern countries on Thursday night.
Seating was full in the MUC pit lounge, where about 150 students, faculty and community members came to have their questions answered.
Lamont Sellers, associate vice president for diversity, said the event was helpful to those who participated.
“This event helped answer some lingering questions students had and helped hear from some experts in the field,” he said.
One of those experts was Henry Evans, an immigration attorney based in Sioux Falls who has been practicing law since 1996. His best advice for students and all those concerned was to stay in the U.S.
“As long as [non-citizens] stay in the U.S., there will be no impact at all,” Evans said. “Stay here and don’t obtain any criminal convictions. Study hard and enjoy college.”
Computer science graduate student Suneel Bandarupalli came from India to study at USD, and he voiced his concerns during the forum.
“I want to travel home, but can I in this situation?” he asked. “Those are my doubts.”
Roma Trivedi, a sophomore finance major from Kenya, said she was worried for her peers.
“There are changes in current visas, how are they going to affect international students? It just concerns me what will happen to students,” she said. “They are here to study, get an education and go back.”
Miyuraj Harishchandra, a biology Ph.D. student from Sri Lanka, said he’s concerned for his family back home. He decided that he was going to wait longer than expected to return home from U.S., for fear that the ban might spread to Sri Lanka, and that he might not be able to make it back in or out.
“I was planning to go back home in the summer, but I have changed my plans because I don’t want any hassle when I come back,” he said. “If I return, then I would have to wait. I think I will wait three years now. I have grandmas who are waiting for me to be there. Time passes and I don’t want them to die when I go.”
Fawwad Hussain, a computer science graduate student from Pakistan, was critical of the ban and said he wanted to understand the changes that would be put into place, either permanently or temporarily.
“[The ban] is very inhuman,” he said. “The people that are coming for higher education do not want to be banned and having all these issues with immigration. There should be some change in the policy so that students can attend universities wherever they want to go so they have some basic rights.”
Sellers clarified that although South Dakota doesn’t have any defined sanctuary cities, which are places that will not enforce immigration laws, USD will continue to uphold its policy of inclusive excellence.
“We will continue to embody inclusive excellence and be welcoming to students,” Sellers said. “We will continue to assist in any ways that we can and supporting our students that come from all over the world. Those affected countries as well as others that are yet to be named. We just don’t know what the future holds, but we will continue to be welcoming to all.”
Sellers also noted that resources will soon be made available to students as follow-up from the forum. Video of the event was recorded by the CDC and other resources will be shared online.
Students can contact Henry Evans at Henry.Evans@EvansLaw-PC.com or text (605) 496-9282 for more information.