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Immigration Panelists: U.S. Policy Shifts Spreading ‘Fear, Uncertainty’

More than 75 members of the Creighton community – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – gathered on campus Monday night for a panel discussion on U.S. immigration policy. The event was sponsored by the University’s Muslim Student Association, along with the International Students Association and the Creighton Students Union.

Titled “Immigration: A Panel Discussion on Recent Policy Changes, Student Experiences, and Religious Intolerance,” the event originally was planned to be held in Room 104 of the Skutt Student Center. It was moved to Skutt’s Mutual of Omaha Ballroom, and, with a near full-house turnout, the switch proved to be fortuitous.

Panelists included three Creighton students: Hafsah Naeem, from Pakistan; Nidaa Mungloo, from Mauritius; and Aditi Dinakar, speaker of the board of the Creighton Students Union. René Padilla, PhD, Creighton’s vice provost for Global Engagement, and Bassel El Kasaby, a local attorney specializing in immigration law, rounded out the panel.

Recent immigration and refugee policy shifts enacted by President Trump’s administration, panel organizers had said in the lead-up to the event, called for “a moment of evaluation.”

The upshot of that evaluation on Monday night: The executive order banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations is producing fear and uncertainty for many, including some right here on campus.

From the perspective of Mungloo and Naeem, the two international student panelists, the actions are threatening to shake up their life plans.

Mungloo said she’d planned to be in the U.S. for three years on a student visa. The possibility of that visa being cut short hit a nerve.

“A lot of international students, like me, are afraid,” Mungloo said. “All we can do is hope for the best. To be in this state of uncertainty is really scary.”

And while U.S. citizens may be spared from some of that direct impact of shifting immigration policy, it’s still hitting home for them, albeit in a broader sense.

“I’m a U.S. citizen,” Dinakar said, “so I don’t have that uncertainty, and I’m lucky. But we should be having these conversations, breaking down the stereotypes, this ‘fear of brown people.’”

Padilla said the University is monitoring the situation closely and “affirming anywhere we can that we are open for business as a safe place.”

Facts are vital in times like these, he said.

“Let’s think through what’s being proposed, gather the data and work to understand this,” he said. “We don’t want to add to the anecdotal information around this issue.

“The role of the University is finding truth,” Padilla said.

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