|CUNY doctoral student, Saira Rafiee, was denied entry into the U.S.|
The PSC learned yesterday that a union member and CUNY doctoral student, Saira Rafiee, was denied entry into the U.S. as a result of the executive order signed by Donald Trump barring entry for legal, documented immigrants from seven countries. Saira was traveling back from Iran, where she is a citizen, to resume her work and studies at the CUNY Grad Center. She was in transit by way of Abu Dhabi when she was forbidden to board a plane to New York and was detained for almost 18 hours. She has now been able to fly back to Tehran, but is still barred from reentry to the U.S.
Saira wrote in a statement this morning: “ I have no clue whether I would ever be able to go back to the school I like so much, or to see my dear friends there. But my story isn’t as painful and terrifying as many other stories I have heard these days.”
Because of the quick work of the PSC chapter chair at the Grad Center and several Grad Center faculty and students who immediately notified the union, the PSC officers and staff were able to work with the Mayor’s office, our national union, and immigration rights attorneys in support of Saira’s case.
I urge you to call on our Congressional representatives to bring Saira Rafiee back to NewYork and to CUNY. As academic unionists in an institution where immigrants make up 40 percent of the student body and in a city built and sustained by immigrant labor, we have a special responsibility to demand an end to Trump’s dangerous ban. Click here to find the contact information of your representatives, and email Senators Schumer and Gillibrand asking for their intervention for Saira and all those imperiled by the executive order. (On weekdays, use 202-225-3121 to reach Congress by phone.)
Saira’s own statement reminds us of what is at stake: “The sufferings of all of us [who have been detained] are just one side of this horrendous order. The other side is the struggle against racism and fascism, against assaults on freedom and human dignity . . . As a student of sociology and political science, I have devoted a major part of my scholarly life to the study of authoritarianism. It is time to call things by their true names; this is Islamophobia, racism, fascism. We, the 99% of the world, need to stand united in resisting the authoritarian forces all over the world.”
There may be other CUNY students, faculty and staff caught in this executive order. Please notify the PSC if you are aware of union members in need; you may also want to contact CUNY CLEAR , an immigrants’ rights project at the Law School.
And keep standing up and speaking out for our members, our students and our city. Every collective action we take builds the union’s strength to fight for all of us.
Press Conference Today