Dr. Anna Law on immigration in the Trump era

Avery Blasko, Contributing Writer

The University hosted Dr. Anna O. Law on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Elaine Langone Center Forum. Law spoke on her work regarding immigration in the United States under President Donald Trump. Law is a Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College and serves as the Herb Kurz Chair in Constitutional Rights. Law’s academic publications investigate the interaction between law, legal institutions, and politics and appear in social science and law journals. Her current studies focus on immigration federalism and slavery, as well as gender and asylum.

In the past, Law served as a program analyst at the United States Commission on Immigration Reform. In 2007, she also appeared as a recurring narrator in a PBS award-winning documentary. Law was invited to speak at the University, “Given that the subject of immigration is frequently in the headlines, the Legal Studies Advisory Board decided that it would be of interest to the campus community,” Associate Professor of Political Science Amy McCready said.

Law began her talk by discussing how being an immigration expert during the Trump Administration is not the kind of busy she would like to be. She compared her work to being an oncologist who constantly has to perform surgeries.

Additionally, Law discussed the history of immigration in the United States. She stressed the point that “no modern president has ever run, let alone won, on an anti-immigration platform.” Law then went deeper into U.S. history, going all the way back to President John Adams. Adams coined the phrase “rule of law” in American politics and said that we should strive to be “a government of laws and not of men.” Adams was trying to say that no person is above or below the law. Law wanted to stress the point that Trump is not allowed to do anything illegal because he is the president, and immigrants are not below the law just because they are not U.S. citizens.

“I welcomed her attention to the rule of law. It may seem so basic, but it is a foundation of our democracy, and the health of our political system depends on it,” McCready said. She also noted Law’s point that “constitutionality doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Law then looked into more modern presidencies. She compared the immigration policies of Trump and President Barack Obama. While Trump only has a slightly higher deportation rate than his predecessor, Obama was focused on deporting only drug dealers and high-risk criminals. Trump, on the other hand, is attempting to deport every illegal immigrant, be it drug lord or field worker, according to Law. Another problem with immigration in current politics Law noted is that Congress is not taking action, they have “rolled over and played dead.”

One last key point Law made was that Trump is not attempting to stop illegal immigration into America. He is attempting to prevent all forms of immigration, which Law argued is not right.

Law said that college-aged students should be concerned about this issue and have the opportunity to change how things are, stressing that midterm elections are coming up, and in order for a change to occur, young people (ages 18-24) need to vote. Forty percent of people in that age group voted in the last election, compared to senior citizens, who had about 70 percent voter turnout. Law said that this age group needs to be concerned about themselves and their future because that is the only way things will change and get better.

Along with her lecture, Law visited multiple classrooms and gave a Q&A session at the University. According to McCready, “Professor Law was impressed by students’ smart questions at the lecture and in a class she visited earlier in the day, as well as their political engagement.”

“I think it was very helpful in clearing up misconceptions that might come from misrepresentation,” Talia Housman ’21 said. “Anna Law is an excellent speaker and I really wish that even more of Bucknell could hear her speak on such an important topic.”


Editor’s Note: The quote stating “constitutionality doesn’t mean it’s right” was previously misattributed to Professor McCready. This statement was made by Dr. Law. We apologize for this error.

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