Help for Those Concerned about Immigration Status

University to hold two events to advise international students and scholars

Ryan Corbett, Xinia Bermudez, Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Victoria Baratian, and Mario Paredes

Ryan Corbett (LAW’17) (from left), Xinia Bermudez (LAW’18), LAW instructor Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Victoria Baratian (LAW’17), and Mario Paredes (LAW’18) holding up signs in Somali, Farsi, Arabic, and English at Logan International Airport February 3.

February 24, 2017
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Sarah Sherman-Stokes has three words for students and scholars concerned about their immigration status: Know your rights.

To help them, Sherman-Stokes, a School of Law clinical instructor in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, and Julie Dahlstrom, a LAW clinical instructor who oversees the Human Trafficking Clinic, have organized a Know Your Rights seminar, to be held this Sunday, February 26, at LAW at 10 a.m. They and others will offer practical advice for members of BU’s international community who are concerned about their status because of President Trump’s January 27 executive order banning all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, blocking entry for all residents of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for at least 90 days, and indefinitely banning all refugees from Syria.

“People need to know, when do I have to open the door to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent?” says Sherman-Stokes. “What should an ICE agent be showing me if he wants to get access to my house? What are my rights in terms of calling a lawyer? What documents do I need to be carrying? All of those things will be covered in our presentation.”

After Sunday’s Know Your Rights seminar, from noon to 4:30 p.m. immigration attorneys and law students are volunteering to offer legal advice and referrals in 30-minute private consultations, by appointment only. Consultations can be booked here. Social workers will be on hand to offer advice on mental health resources in the area, as many community members may be feeling profound anxiety.

“This is to provide legal advice to students who have particular questions about how they are impacted or potentially what options may be available to them if there are not feeling secure in their legal status,” says Sherman-Stokes.

The event is sponsored by LAW’s Office of Clinical and Experiential Education, BU Global Programs, and the law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP.

A second event for people with concerns about immigration rights, Town Hall: From Executive Orders to Judicial Decisions and Beyond, will be held on the Medical Campus on Monday, February 27, at 5:30 p.m.

“Many in our community continue to be seriously and understandably concerned about their own immigration status or the status of someone they know,” says Willis Wang, vice president and associate provost for global programs and deputy general counsel. “They are seeking support and more clarity during a time that remains very unsettling.”

The Medical Campus event panelists are Emily Burlij, associate director, BU Federal Relations; Jeanne Kelley, managing director, BU International Students and Scholars (ISSO) office; Carrie Landa, director, BU Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine; and Rhonda A. Tietjen, a partner at the law firm Ross Silverman Snyder Tietjen, LLP, who specializes in immigration and nationality law. Karen Antman, dean of the BU School of Medicine and provost of the Medical Campus, will moderate.

“We want to provide our students, faculty, and staff the chance to ask questions about the executive order or share their concerns,” Wang says.

This is the third Town Hall on immigration this year, cosponsored by Global Programs and the Dean of Students office. At the previous sessions, panels of experts fielded questions about specific executive order provisions, the effect on the ability of a noncitizen to enter the United States, preparing for international travel, the lawsuits filed around the country and the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, and the types of support available on campus.

“We hope our community finds the session on Monday at the Medical Campus equally helpful,” says Wang.

For those who cannot attend, the event will be streamed live here.

Two other online resources are available: the ISSO’s dedicated web page and a Student Health Services page with advice about coping with stress.

Many members of the international community have felt under siege since January 27, when Trump signed the executive order. BU has 102 undergraduate and graduate students and 16 scholars from the seven countries affected by Trump’s order. Overall, the University has more than 9,000 international students, several hundred of them on the Medical Campus: at the School of Medicine, the School of Public Health, and the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

The executive order has spurred numerous legal challenges, and its enforcement has been blocked for now by federal courts. The Trump administration has promised that a new version of the executive order will be issued soon, and it has issued orders for increased enforcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The situation has been fluid, fast-changing, and often confusing,” says Sherman-Stokes. “We’re going to be very clear that the advice we’re giving is advice for today. But there are some things that will not change. There are Fifth Amendment and due process and Constitutional rights that all persons, including noncitizens, in the United States have, and that can’t change no matter who the president is.”

The Know Your Rights event on Sunday, February 26, is free and open to the entire BU community, in LAW Room 102, 765 Commonwealth Ave., with the teach-in set for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Individual legal consultations are noon to 4:30 p.m., but you must sign up first here.

The Medical Campus event, Town Hall: From Executive Orders to Judicial Decisions and Beyond, will be held at 72 E. Concord St., Keefer Auditorium, (room change) on Monday, February 27, at 5:30 p.m.

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Help for Those Concerned about Immigration Status

  • Joel Brown

    Staff Writer

    Portrait of Joel Brown. An older white man with greying brown hair, beard, and mustache and wearing glasses, white collared shirt, and navy blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey background.

    Joel Brown is a staff writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. He’s written more than 700 stories for the Boston Globe and has also written for the Boston Herald and the Greenfield Recorder. Profile

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  1. Thank you to all of the staff, faculty, and students who are working quickly to provide these helpful resources to our community. It’s wonderful to see such kindness and collaboration.

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