By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Immediately following President Donald Trump's Friday executive order that barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., attorneys flocked to JFK airport in an attempt to help those detained.
Brooklyn Law School (BLS), its faculty and its students are no exception.
BLS Dean Nicholas Allard sent out a message to students on Monday in which he addressed their concerns, explained how the school was already making efforts to help out and directed students looking to get involved on how they can help as well.
“The short time since the inauguration already has produced many trying days,” Allard wrote in his letter to the students. “Most recently, many of us are concerned about the president’s executive order regarding entry into the United States based on citizenship, religion, refugee status and national origin.
“The order itself is complicated, unclear and at least in some respects unconstitutional or illegal according to early rulings from many courts,” Allard continued. “I will be crystal clear: Our law school stands with any member of our community who believes this order puts them in jeopardy in any way.”
Allard speculated on how the executive order fits in with the school’s values and the law and reiterated that the school "does not abide" discrimination and stands by the principals of welcoming immigrants into the country. He also said that the school is committed to the right to protest, dissent and to use the legal process to resolve disputes.
“The president’s order raises very serious concerns about conflicts with our values, as well as with regulation, law and the Constitution,” Allard said. “We are now witnessing the power of the law to make a positive difference, as attorneys, including BLS faculty, students and graduates, continue to work around the clock to help those being detained and to bring actions in federal courts around the country.”
Members of the BLS community have been involved over the weekend in protests at JFK airport, in Battery Park and in front of the federal courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn. Two professors, Maryellen Fullerton and Stacy Caplow, have added their names to the volunteer lawyer list for people detained at JFK and several students have become legal observers for the National Lawyers Guild.
“It is not only a historical tradition and a moral tradition, but it’s current law,” Fullerton said in a recent BBC News interview in reference to the Refugee Act of 1980 that established a permanent procedure for accepting refugees into the country.
“Since 1980, more than 3 million refugees have been resettled in the United States,” Fullerton continued. “This has been pursuant to law and has improved the United States, and we haven’t had major security problems or criminal problems. It’s very much in the best interest of the United States that we continue that program in some way.”
There is a group of students who have begun the process of having BLS become a chapter of the International Refugee Assistance Project, an organization that pairs law school students with immigration and human rights attorneys to provide refugees with legal assistance, assist in emergency response programs and engage in legislative advocacy. BLS' Safe Harbor Clinic has also been helping to assist immigrants seeking asylum.
“We will play a significant role going forward to safeguard the rule of law and to protect the rights of the most vulnerable,” Allard said. “We are renowned for our dedication to public service and as a gateway to opportunity to generations of immigrants and the children of immigrants. May we continue to be a beacon of hope for the people of our city and our nation.”