Refugee Advocacy and Training: What We Can Do


Ever since Trump’s #MuslimBan, many Wesleyan students have come together asking what we can do as a community to help those who are  (currently) affected by the Executive Order. The Wesleyan Refugee Project—in conjunction with the Middle Eastern Student’s Union, the Allbritton Center, and the Muslim Student Association—held a training session for Wesleyan and the community, where we heard from two amazing speakers who provided resources and information for those who were seeking advice on how to help the refugees who cannot enter the country.

We first heard from Imam Sami Aziz, who spoke about his services across Connecticut, and how we can come together as a community to fight Islamophobia.

The second speaker was Stephen Poellot, legal director of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), who has been on the frontlines for the past week, helping those in airports who cannot come home; he has been working around the clock to provide legal representation to refugees currently detained in airports. Poellot emphasized the importance of coming together and fighting the Order. During the Q&A session, Poellot expressed that although we do not know what will come ahead, we should focus on providing resources, whether it being to the families themselves or the plethora of attorneys who are stationed in the airports.

The last speaker was Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, an attorney located in Massachusetts. She began her career in law as a divorce lawyer, and slowly progressed to representing those affected by religious persecution. As a Muslim herself, she has been targeted by right-wing “news” sites like Breitbart, but she continues to fight for those who are voiceless; she explained how many individuals who are facing prejudice may not be able to report it, and we must be willing to hear each story and act accordingly.

Many questions proceeded the training, and many of them ended with a resounding statement: There is, and will be, an incredible amount of uncertainty in the future. We must all act together—whether within the Middletown community or beyond—and strive to keep a safe environment for everyone.

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