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Brooklyn Law School students continue to fight for immigrant rights

February 17, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
More than 100 Brooklyn Law School students gathered in front of Borough Hall prior to the march to the federal courthouse and back in support of immigrants’ rights. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese

The administration at Brooklyn Law School (BLS) reacted quickly to President Donald Trump’s “Muslim ban” almost immediately after he announced it and the students continued to carry on that message of support for immigrants when it held a rally and march in Downtown Brooklyn on Thursday night.

The rally started in front of Borough Hall before the crowd of more than 100 students and activists marched to the federal courthouse three blocks away while holding up signs and chanting anti-Trump and pro-democracy slogans.

“I stand before you with pride as I see so many spirited students, professors, staff, community residents and dignitaries who have gathered in support of nothing less than our American values, our American justice system and of course, the Constitution of the United States,” said BLS Dean Nicholas Allard.

“As a student-organized event, tonight’s rally is particularly important and extraordinarily symbolic,” Allard continued. “You are calling attention to very specific individual concerns and fears. Tonight our students and the law school students among you are also discharging what we at Brooklyn Law School see as a fundamental lawyerly responsibility — advancing the causes of others who may not be in a position to do so for themselves.”

The march was the idea of the members of the Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA), but organizers said that it quickly became more of a school-wide effort, with 18 different student associations pitching in.

“What started out as a small initiative by our group has turned into this whole collaborative with 18 different student associations,” said Sayyid Choudhury, president of the MLSA. “We tried to think what we could do in response to the first few weeks of vitriolic rhetoric coming from the presidential administration. So we wanted to do something, we wanted to do a march, but we wanted to do more, too.”

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In addition to the march, the students and professors have organized a series of legal lunches. The first of these pop-up classes was held on Wednesday during which professors William Araiza and Sabeel Rahman gave a lesson and held a discussion with students and members of the public on executive orders. Those pop-up classes are expected to be a weekly event at the school, with programs currently scheduled through March 6 with more in the planning stages.

The students also established The Brooklyn Pledge, a pledge designed to show support for various groups within the borough. Students handed it out at the rally and recited it before the march. On the back of the pledge sheet was also a sign-up sheet so people can be notified of future events organized by the law school.

“I’m proud to join Brooklyn Law School’s Brooklyn Stands Together rally,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, who took part in the rally. “It demonstrates Brooklynites are as passionate about unity as we are about resistance. I dedicate my office and my work to upholding the values expressed in the Brooklyn Pledge. We have declared ourselves a Sanctuary City, and we must work constantly to improve protections for immigrant New Yorkers who are most at risk. We will do so with protest, celebration, advocacy and with criminal justice reforms recently passed by City Council.”

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