by Sarah Willson
Central Connecticut State University held a panel discussion in Alumni Hall to educate students and the public about the immigration bill making its way through the White House, after it was moved from the Sprague-Carlton room due to safety reasons from a high-volume turnout.
The event, held on March 1, brought in four key speakers to talk with students and faculty about the importance of the bill proposed by President Donald Trump, because it could deport up to three million undocumented people.
CCSU President Zulma Toro introduced the key speakers; two immigration attorneys, a CCSU student and CCSU’s associate director of international student and scholar services.
“We are committed to providing a safe environment,” said Dr. Toro, opening the discussion by speaking about immigration laws. “You will have a better handle [after today] on what comes your way.”
“It’s very important not to get in trouble with the law,” said immigration attorney Monika Gradzki. “It is extremely, extremely important not to find yourself in a situation where you are being arrested. If you are arrested, you do not want to take any chances with that situation, you need to make sure that your criminal arrest is analyzed by both criminal attorneys and immigration attorneys.”
The panel explained some precautions undocumented and international students should be aware of, if they are ever confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Immigration attorney Jeff Dressler stressed the importance of having a plan and cooperating with the police, before explaining that arguing with them will only escalate the situation.
Dressler continued to say documents and other important information should always be accessible, as they will be needed if ICE arrives. More than anything, he emphasized on how critical it is to be courteous, remain calm and follow instructions if confronted by an immigration officer.
Dressler suggested downloading SafeLock on your personal phone, an app which lets users safely store and easily access all identification documents if need be.
As for where to receive help on campus, CCSU’s associate director of international student and scholar services, Toyin Ayeni, said that an email will circulate campus from Dr. Toro, encouraging students to reach out to her if they feel they need help or are in danger.
“Talk to the [CCSU] president about your situation,” said Ayeni. “She will be able to analyze it and make it easier for you.”
If Dr. Toro is not available, and students feel as if they need immediate attention regarding their situation, Ayeni said she encourages them to visit the Student Wellness Center, located in room 205 of Marcus White Hall.
Students can find five counselors available to help, Monday through Friday.
Every panel member stated that the most important thing to remember is that no one at CCSU is alone.
“We know there are anxieties and concerns,” said Ayeni. “We, as an institution, are a resource to all our students.”