A new semester starts at Hofstra just days after the start of the Trump administration, and the concern of the community is only growing as Donald Trump’s campaign promises have started to come true. President Trump’s recent ban on Muslim refugees and immigrants on religious grounds, combined with his plans to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, have been criticized as xenophobic under the rationale of trying to keep America safe. At times like this, it is important to come together for dialogue, fact-checking, and solidarity. Civic engagement is more important at Hofstra than ever.
On January 25th, Hofstra President Rabinowitz issued a statement to the campus community reinforcing our values of tolerance, solidarity, and celebration of diversity in light of these events. However, we in the Hofstra community must go a step further to educate ourselves, others, and support each other. There are many hot topics right now with the new presidential administration, but we can arm ourselves with the facts one at a time.
As for the topic of immigration, it is important to establish that immigrants – yes, even undocumented immigrants – actually commit fewer crimes than the native-born population in the United States (WSJ, PBS). Immigration boosts the American economy, and it is what keeps America from experiencing the degree of population aging that other industrialized nations are currently struggling with. Trump also claims that halting travel from Muslim-majority nations will prevent terrorism by Islamic extremists on American soil. However, facts paint a more realistic picture of Muslim-Americans. In 2014 alone, 136 people lost their lives in American mass-shootings, which is far more than the 50 who lost their lives to Muslim-American terrorists in the whole 13-year period between 9/11 and the end of 2014 (CNN). This one-dimensional view of people based on their religion or nationality creates the hate and fear that people think they are keeping out by closing the border.
With this information in mind, remember to be open-minded and inquisitive as we begin this new semester in Hofstra surrounded by a political context of uncertainty. If you would like to be involved with events that explore the new administration’s actions on immigration and other issues, the Center for Civic Engagement invites all students to take action both on and off campus by preparing for events like Civil Rights Day on campus, or work with our community partners that advocate for immigrant rights, nonviolence, the environment, and more.