Kevin Johnson, dean of the University of California Davis Law School, spoke about immigration in the time of Trump. Johnson was chosen as this year’s speaker at the 21st annual Mead lecture series, held in honor of late University of Connecticut professor Robert G. Mead.
“What I would criticize most about this administration… is that it is not committed to the rule of law,” Johnson said. “They will go as close as they can to breaking the rules.”
Johnson shared his thoughts on immigration policy within the United States and on the steps taken thus far by the Trump administration concerning this issue.
New information seems to consistently flow out of the White House regarding controversial topics, especially immigration. Just last week, the Trump administration released an anti-immigrant advertisement that was deemed too racist to be shown on TV.
Johnson said race remains one of the major problems apparent in U.S. immigration policies. He credits the Trump administration with taking steps to stop diversity and halt the progress that has been made in the past in relation to the racial makeup of this country.
He put it simply: Trump wants to design a whiter America.
“With refusing to comply with the rule of law, the Trump administration is taking steps to reduce the number of immigrants of color coming to the United States,” Johnson said. “This is contrary to basic immigration law in our country.”
Since the beginning of his campaign trail, Trump was not afraid to make it known that this was the case, going so far as to call Mexican immigrants rapists, criminals and drug dealers.
In regard to the specific steps taken, Johnson highlighted the ones he found most controversial, including the travel ban, the family separation policy and the zero-tolerance program.
During the first month of his presidency, Trump issued an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This travel ban caused chaos at airports across the nation and kickstarted his agenda to tighten immigration and “reduce immigration of people of color” by suspending travel from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Johnson spent time at the U.S.-Mexico border and was able to see firsthand the difficulties immigrants face when trying to cross the border. Immigrants were terrified of what was going to happen to them.
“I think it is really important to learn about all of these policies and all of the struggles that immigrants have to come here,” Alisson Mora, a third-semester undecided major, said.
Johnson has hope for the future. He said people are paying attention in ways that they didn’t during the Obama administration, creating a surge in political activism around the country.
“Especially on a college campus, I think talks like this are important, regardless of one’s political views,” Julia Marchese, a graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in Latin American studies, said.
The current political climate within the U.S. was shaken up by the inauguration of President Trump. Immigration is not an issue that is going to disappear overnight. Immigration law will persist as a controversial issue within this country.
“We’re going to continue to deal with this issue,” Johnson said. “I know it’s hard to address, but we’re going to have to address it.”
Emma Gehr is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.