The Time to Act is Now

We commend Boston area professors for engaging in civil obedience to stand up for undocumented students.

Last Thursday, professors from across the Boston area gathered in front of Johnston Gate for a rally. They then took to Mass. Ave. to be arrested as part of a civil disobedience demonstration. The professors made this bold decision in response to the repeal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive order that grants undocumented students—who qualify and go through a background check—protection from deportation and a work permit.

We commend the professors and faculty members who stood up for students on this campus as well as the other undocumented individuals in this country. It was clear their act of civil disobedience may have been ignited by the repeal of DACA, but given the content of the speeches given at the rally, it was also about undocumented students without DACA and the immigrants across the country who are being targeted by the Trump administration.

It is also important to remember that the call to fight for the rights of undocumented immigrants is not limited only to students. It also includes workers, an indispensable part of Harvard, who are also impacted. Attention must be drawn to the 10.2 million undocumented people in this country who did not qualify for DACA but deserve to be protected regardless. The fight for equal rights at Harvard is not just about DACA. It’s about everyone.

We ask that no professors be penalized for participating in civil disobedience. Having to choose between activism for their students and their jobs should not be a concern that any would-be professor should have. Civil disobedience is a cornerstone of our democracy, and acts of support are important as the Trump administration continues scapegoating immigrants and their communities. We are especially impressed with Divinity School professor Ahmed Ragab, who was naturalized as a citizen one hour prior to being arrested in the name of the rights of his undocumented students and undocumented immigrants across the country. His actions epitomize the role protest plays in supporting our democracy.

Undocumented students, whether or not professors realize it, are an essential part of this campus; we hope that the professors who have shown this through their protest will inspire other professors, as well as members of Harvard’s administration, who may not be aware of the role that undocumented students play in their classroom to learn more about how to be better allies.

We also hope that these actions will result in faster institutional change, expanding the initiatives currently in progress and creating more support for all Harvard affiliates impacted by the President’s immigration policies. The University must ensure that these individuals feel supported at a time when the federal government seems to be doing everything in its power to undermine them.

It is more important now than ever that students and other Harvard affiliates who enjoy the privileges that citizenship provides leverage that in order to advocate in ways that may be too risky for undocumented students. Specifically, it is important for citizens not shy away from civil disobedience to push for change; it will become even more unsafe for those without the protection of citizenship to fight for their own rights. Members of our community, and this country, who are being impacted by these nearsighted immigration policies deserve to be fought for. The time to act is now.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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