Hundreds attend rally on ODU campus protesting Trump immigration order

NORFOLK, Va. - Hundreds of students, staff and others marched around the Old Dominion University campus Tuesday in protest of President Donald Trump's recent executive order on immigration.

The order, which keeps immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days, was signed last week.

Bnar Mustafa, a graduate student at ODU, is from Iraq. She says she was planning to visit home for the first time in five years, but that plan is now postponed.

"It's heartbreaking for me. I'm 39 weeks pregnant and I really want to visit my family or they can come visit me, but now I'm stuck," she said.

Mustafa is one of 50 students and staff ODU says is impacted by the order.

Jake Dafoe, Vice President of the ODU Democrats, says he organized the protest in solidarity with them.

"They can't go home now because they would not be able to come back to ODU. They will not be allowed to come back into this country," he said.

But not every student at Old Dominion is on board with protests like this.

"We're not trying to kick them out of our country, we're not...it's nothing personal. It's just a matter of safety," said an ODU student who didn't want to be named. "At the same time you have to respect that they have a voice, they have an opinion. You might not always agree with it."

In this case hundreds of voices protesting and marching to lift those up, who for at least the next few months, won't be able to go home if they want to return to school.

"People even I don't know, they come hug me and support me. This is the best thing ever. I really appreciate all of these people," said Mustafa.

ODU isn't commenting specifically on Tuesday's protest, but this week University President John Broderick did release a statement in response to President Trump's order:

Dear Monarch Community:

Old Dominion University maintains a climate where diversity and inclusivity are a major part of our DNA. We benefit greatly from being part of a global community where students, faculty, researchers and staff hail from more than 100 countries. We are a stronger educational institution because this rich diversity enhances our learning and engages us in meaningful dialogue.

The recently announced presidential executive order on immigration that blocks entry to the U.S. for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has triggered much concern and confusion, as evidenced by the mail I have received and read over the last 24 hours.

To our knowledge, no ODU scholars have been blocked entry to the U.S., are stranded or are traveling in those countries. But the fact that this ban may affect ODU students, faculty, researchers, staff and alumni or their families has heightened our own campus commitment to comforting and supporting those impacted by the executive order.

As Monarchs, we will continue to stand with one another in both good and difficult times. ODU will do everything possible within the law to protect our global community of scholars.

We are monitoring developments on how this order will affect higher education institutions and in the next few days expect to receive specific guidance from the Attorney General of Virginia. In the meantime, we recommend our international students, faculty, researchers and staff consult with ODU's visa office if they plan to travel outside the U.S.

This week, ODU's Office of Intercultural Relations, located on the second floor of Webb University Center, will communicate about opportunities for students to discuss, reflect, and share thoughts on this executive order. Additionally, the visa office is planning an educational session on its directives. Students feeling stressed over this order may contact the Office of Counseling Services at 757-683-4401.

We will continue to keep the campus community apprised of any new developments. If you have any questions or concerns about the presidential executive order, please contact the Office of Visa and Immigration Service Advising (VISA) at 757-683-4756 or intlstu@odu.edu.

Sincerely,

John R. Broderick
President