Five law professors discussed the constitutionality of President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders at a panel Thursday.
The professors participated in the event, “Trumping Democracy,” to discuss and clarify the president’s recent actions. The CrossCheck Live event, hosted by the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, was the third in a series of panels that cover issues relating to race, diversity and police brutality.
Earlier this week, Trump issued a temporary immigration ban that barred citizens and refugees from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan, from entering the U.S. The executive order sparked protests at major airports across the country.
Asli Bâli, a law professor, said international students and the large Iranian-American community in Westwood will be immediately impacted by the ban. She advised citizens of Muslim-majority countries to not travel.
“Refugees are turned away at the threshold after already being approved of entry,” Bâli said.
She added broad counterterrorist framings do not just affect immigrants and refugees. Muslim-American citizens can be grouped together to be left out and excluded under the new administration, she said.
“In this instance, this may be accomplished by identifying an organization or entity to call a terrorist – that is so broad, so lacking in any identifiable membership criteria and so easily conflated with the religion itself, as to make every Muslim vulnerable,” Bâli said.
Bâli added she thinks the greatest national security threat that the U.S. may face is the uncertainty and ambiguity being created by the new presidency.
Hiroshi Motomura, a law professor, said he thinks Trump’s recent policies do not reflect a separation of church and state.
“Some of the discrimination is based on hostility to a religion and a preference for Christianity,” Motomura said.
Cheryl Harris, a law professor, said she doesn’t think President Trump is the only threat to democracy. Harris said she thinks there has been an erosion of values that has led the way for the racist populism she believes he represents.
Adam Winkler, another law professor, said he thinks the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, meets the qualifications necessary for a judge, but Gorsuch’s views may make it harder to pass democratic legislation. Winkler also compared Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy to that of former Justice Antonin Scalia.
“He does have a robust view of the judiciary and is not going to be Trump’s lapdog,” Winkler said. “You can expect him to vote to scale back some of the things that Trump would do.”
After the panel discussion, audience members asked the professors about the legality of the recent orders and how it would affect them.
One audience member asked why there has been more mobilization against the threat of terrorism than gun violence.
Harris said race plays a major role in how people view risk. She compared the recent immigration ban to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
“It had nothing to do with the risk to national security,” Harris said. “It had everything to do with the depiction of the Japanese-Americans as an enemy race.”
Some students said they thought the event was informative and necessary.
Chloe Pan, a third-year international development and Asian-American studies student, said she attended the CrossCheck Live event to get a more legal and administrative perspective on the Trump administration and understand how it will impact UCLA students.
“(The new administration) is unfairly demonizing communities and targeting communities of color, which isn’t new, but serves as a powerful reminder to stay informed,” Pan said.
Donmonique Chambliss, a third-year global studies student, said she was shocked about the president’s recent orders and went to the event because she wanted to hear the legal perspective about Trump’s actions.