AB540 and Undocumented Student Center, Muslim Student Association host Know Your Rights presentation
The AB540 and Undocumented Student Center hosted a Know Your Rights (KYR) presentation at 8 p.m. on Feb. 15 in collaboration with the Muslim Student Association (MSA) in hopes of educating members of the UC Davis community of their rights amidst concerns of student immigrant deportation.
Amy Barnett, a UC Davis attorney fellow, and Saad Sweilem, a member of the Council on American Islamic Relations, led the presentation for approximately 30 attendees. Though the center has been hosting KYR presentations since last quarter, this workshop had a special emphasis on the recent executive order passed by President Donald Trump regarding restrictions on immigration.
The 90 day immigration ban took effect on Jan. 28 and prevents visa holders from entering the United States from 7 majority Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. Though the ban does not affect DACA students, Barnett said there are still many students on campus who are undocumented and have higher chances of being impacted by the order.
Barnett and Sweilem provided tips on how to interact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if confronted by an officer. They stressed the importance of remaining silent and refraining from signing any documents since officers often deceive uninformed people into authorizing their own deportation agreement.
“The biggest issue is people providing evidence against themselves,” Barnett said.
Barnett added that UC Davis will stay a sanctuary campus, meaning it will maintain the confidentiality of its students by not sharing any information with ICE. Nonetheless, the most advantageous approach is to prepare for any situation, according to Barnett.
“It remains incredibly important for everyone to learn their rights,” Barnett said via email. “Even if you are a green card holder or a US Citizen, we encourage you to learn your rights so that you can invoke them in order to protect yourself and your loved ones if necessary.”
Barnett and Sweilem also provided attendees with constitutional amendments booklets, cards declaring the right to remain silent and tip sheets explaining what to do if approached by an ICE officer.
Recognizing the value of the KYR workshop, MSA cancelled its protest from earlier that day, instead encouraging its members to attend the presentation.
“We wanted to do something proactive,” said Nida Ahmed, the MSA internal vice president and a fourth-year global disease biology major. “You’re most powerful when you have the right tools, and you have the right tools when you’re knowledgeable about what your rights are. […] Knowledge is power.”
Omar Abdel-Ghaffar, the MSA external vice president and a fourth-year political science major, believes it is important for students to respond peacefully to the recent hate crimes in Davis by channeling their emotions into standing up for each other.
“MSA community members […] have taken initiative and transferred fear and anger into something proactive,” Abdel-Ghaffar said.
Barnett noted that every student at UC Davis deserves to feel secure in their everyday environment, both physically and mentally.
“Knowing your rights is a great way to feel empowered and to be able to protect yourself and to just feel safer in your own space,” Barnett said.
Sweilem hopes students will apply the tools they learned from the presentation in any encounter with ICE or other law enforcement officers.
“If you take one thing away from [here] today, I want it to be this: no matter what situation you are in with law enforcement, no matter how bad it is, […] you always have the right to remain silent,” Sweilem said. “They can never take it away from you and they can never use it against you.”
Written by: Jeanna Totah — firstname.lastname@example.org