Dean Nick Allard Statement on Entry into the United States and the Rule of Law


To the Brooklyn Law School Community:

The short time since the Inauguration already has produced many trying days. Most recently, many of us are concerned about the President’s Executive Order regarding entry into the United States based on citizenship, religion, refugee status, and national origin.

The order itself is complicated, unclear, and at least in some respects unconstitutional or illegal according to early rulings from many courts. I will be crystal clear: Our Law School stands with any member of our community who believes this order puts them in jeopardy in any way. If you feel at risk, or simply want to discuss the issues, I encourage you to speak with Dean of Students Jen Lang who can help connect you with the resources you may need, or any member of our faculty and administration with whom you feel comfortable talking to about your concerns. In particular, this may be a difficult time for some of our international students, who are tremendously important and welcomed members of our community. If you are an international student seeking guidance or have questions, please reach out to Julie Sculli who remains at your service.

The more general question is how this executive action by the President comports with our values, the law, and the Constitution. I am only reiterating what we all feel when I note:

• Our Law School community does not abide discrimination by religion, national origin, or citizenship.
• Our community supports the moral principles that animate the historic American method of welcoming refugees to this country.
• Our community is deeply committed to the right to protest and dissent, to use the legal process in order to resolve disputes and balance legitimate but competing concerns, and to express freely opinions and beliefs.

We have always cherished debate over political issues within the framework of these basic values. The President’s order raises very serious concerns about conflicts with our values, as well as with regulation, law, and the Constitution. We are now witnessing the power of the law to make a positive difference, as attorneys, including BLS faculty, students, and graduates, continue to work around the clock to help those being detained and to bring actions in federal courts around the country. Professors Maryellen Fullerton and Stacy Caplow have added their names to the volunteer lawyer list for the people detained at JFK, while some of our students were at the airport this weekend to serve as legal observers for the National Lawyers Guild.

The order set off a wave of protests throughout the weekend in cities and at airports around the country where individuals were being detained, including JFK airport. Some members of our community – faculty, students, staff, and alumni – took part in the protests over the weekend. At the protest on Sunday at Battery Park, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, the four-year-old son of Professor Chris Beauchamp proudly carried an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol, at the request of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, in honor of his father’s recent naturalization as a U.S. citizen. Many members of our community also were in front of the U.S. Courthouse Saturday evening, just down the street from the Law School, where Judge Ann Donnelly stayed the implementation of the EO. The action was brought by the ACLU, which our own Professor Susan Herman leads as president.

In response to recent events, several students are seeking to have the Law School become a ‘chapter’ of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), an organization associated with the Urban Justice Center. IRAP pairs interested law students with immigration and human rights attorneys to provide direct legal assistance to refugees seeking asylum status, assist in emergency response programs, and engage in legislative advocacy. Our Safe Harbor Clinic continues to assist immigrants seeking asylum and/or related humanitarian relief through the courts.

Events are unfolding quickly – and by the hour – so I expect in the days ahead we will hear of the many ways our faculty and students are involved in the critical issues surrounding the president’s actions on immigration and refugee policy.

To come together as a community, we will hold a Town Hall on Wednesday, February 1, at 12:45 p.m., in the Student Lounge. Just as with the Town Hall we held after the election in November, this gathering will focus on the legal issues in a thoughtful and constructive way. I strongly encourage you to attend if you are able.

In the meantime, to learn more about the issues surrounding our laws on refugees and immigration, I highly recommend Professor Maryellen Fullerton’s recent appearances on BBC News found here.

As a law school in the heart of New York City, which is also a Sanctuary City, we will play a significant role going forward to safeguard the rule of law and to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. We are renowned for our dedication to public service and as a gateway to opportunity to generations of immigrants and the children of immigrants. May we continue to be a beacon of hope for the people of our city and our nation.