By: Tzvi Levitin  | 

Wilf and Beren Students Launch Immigration Ban Awareness Campaign

On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, groups of students on the Wilf and Beren campuses mounted awareness campaigns to protest the executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States. At approximately 11:00 PM on Tuesday, Wilf campus students plastered the dividing wall in Nagel Commons with pictures of Syrian refugees, Humans of New York refugee stories, and quotes drawing comparisons between the rhetoric supporting the refugee ban and the rhetoric that surrounded the United States’ hesitance to take in Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. The conspicuous wall in Nagel Commons features a mural painted by Connie Rose and lies directly in the center of student activity on campus, adjacent to the Glueck Center, the Heights Lounge, and the Gottesman Library.

The artistic piece juxtaposes large pictures of refugees with posters featuring the Statue of Liberty, emotional accounts of refugees, and articles outlining the moral bankruptcy of President Trump’s executive order. One poster features a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt explaining why the United States would close its door to German refugees at a press conference in June of 1940: “In some of the other countries that German refugees have gone to, especially Jewish refugees, they found a number of definitely proven spies.”

On Wednesday night, College Democrats created a  similar display in the lobby of 245 Lexington, one of the two main academic buildings on the Beren campus. In addition to replicating the Wilf campus display's parallelisms between the policies of the 1940s and those of Trump's, Beren students hung biblical passages about the importance of welcoming the ger (stranger), political cartoons, and the names of Holocaust victims who were denied entry into the United States.

Seemingly, the campaigns seek to present the YU community with a moral imperative to oppose the immigration ban regardless of their political affiliations. By comparing the current fear-fueled political climate to policies that prevented Jews from seeking refuge before and during World War II, the protesters aim to demonstrate the severity of President Trump’s policies and their potential to lead to suffering and persecution down the line. “This isn’t a political thing,” claimed one protester on the Wilf campus, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, “It’s a humanity thing.” On the Wilf campus, students left sticky notes near the display to encourage students to write their thoughts and post them on the wall, thus becoming participants in the exhibit.

Another participant, requesting anonymity, said, “We were raised on this idea of Never Again. Never Again for whom? There are people out there facing persecution and terror, many of whom have nowhere left to turn. The countries being banned by Trump do not have any history of terror against the United States. Nationals of the seven countries covered by this ban have not killed a single American in an act of terror. So it’s hard to believe this ban provides any significant amount of security in exchange for the xenophobia it promotes.”

This article updates a previous article on the same story.