Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Vigil for immigrants and refugees held at Student Union

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Jong Man Kim/Collegian

Around 200 people gathered outside the University of Massachusetts’ Student Union Thursday evening for a solidarity candlelight vigil for immigrants and refugees.

The event was organized by the Graduate Employee Organization at UMass.

The crowd received plastic candles to have glowing during the vigil. Planned speakers talked about the executive order immigration ban on seven countries has affected each of them.

Sumera Ahsan, an education Ph.D. student, began the vigil with a moment of silence “to protest the executive order…and to show our solidary towards all who have been affected…”

“Peace, tolerance…to all of you who are affected, for all of you who fear to be affected in the future, and to all of you who are not directly affected,” said Ahsan.

Mohammed Ghadiri, an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student spoke next. He called to attention that Mohsen Hosseini, also an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student, is currently in Iran and was not allowed admittance back into the U.S. due to the immigration ban.

“…I was talking to him Saturday night at 12 a.m., Sunday, the whole day…I just want to give you good news. About an hour ago I talked to Mohsen. He was finally able to purchase a ticket, and he is going to fly…to Boston,” said Ghadiri to a cheering crowd.

Hosseini’s friend and housemate, Ahmed Sepahi was present in the crowd for the vigil.

“I’m Iranian…because of this executive order, we could not go home and see our families. Even our families couldn’t come to the United States. And you know, being here for five or six years without seeing your family, you’d be homesick,” said Sepahi. “The other reason I am here is my friend, he is my housemate, he is in Iran. He went back to Iran to get married with his girlfriend.”

Ghadiri’s speech went on to address the fact that the immigration ban executive order is not the first setback international students have been faced with.

Ghadiri said, “…that’s why I haven’t seen my sisters and any member of my family for four years, and I know there are people here who haven’t seen any members of their families for seven years.”

Nima Oranzani, a psychology Ph.D. student at UMass said, “It’s about an uncertain future that can’t be ignored,” to the crowd.

“I come from a town where a large portion of our population is immigrants from the Dominican Republic,”  said Niamh Quinn Tierney, a freshman at UMass majoring in psychology. “I actually had a really good friend who had to [take] a year off school because he was illegal and couldn’t get any financial aid from the government… And I’m also the daughter of an illegal alien. He was just Irish so he never really got any persecution because he was white. So this is something that’s kind of always been in my life and something that I do feel very passionate about…”

Following the planned speakers, members of the crowd were encouraged to speak and tell their stories and asked to sign a petition to make Amherst a sanctuary city.

            Hayley Johnson can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @hayleyk_johnson.

About the Writer
Hayley Johnson, Editor in Chief

Hayley is the editor in chief of the Daily Collegian for the 2018-19 academic year. She joined her sophomore year, starting as a news assistant and served as the news editor for a semester. She hopes to work for a print newspaper following graduation and is so thankful for everything she’s learned from her time at the Collegian.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Vigil for immigrants and refugees held at Student Union”

  1. David Hunt 1990 on February 3rd, 2017 6:35 am

    Are there individual stories and tragedies? Sure.

    Tell me, if someone broke into your house, decided to stay, and demanded you provide them food and medical care… would you? Or would you call the police and have them dragged out?

    Illegal aliens are LAWBREAKERS.

    Refugees are – by any objective measure – creating crime waves in incredible numbers, including rapes, in Europe. They are coming, and they know it and admit it, following their prophet’s example of conquest by migration. They come, they have lots of babies, and they take over generationally. (Mohammed was a refugee from Mecca; he went to Medina and the Jews there took him in. Within ten years, well, how’d that work out for the Jews there?)

    And this is the thing most Westerners don’t grasp. The Koran is, quite literally, a manual for conquest and then control of subjugated peoples. Sharia law is a law that encompasses everything in life. And they have a centuries-long viewpoint, unlike us with our 30-minute attention span.

  2. David Hunt 1990 on February 5th, 2017 3:18 pm

    Let me clarify. ARAB refugees are creating the crime waves in Europe, and in America.

    Cubans? Heh. Obama stopped them from coming in. Why? Because Cuban refugees have experience with Socialism and tend to vote “R”. The same with the Democrat betrayal of the Vietnamese boat people; having experience with Communism, they had to be pushed away lest they also vote “R”.

    Meanwhile, wave after wave of illegal aliens come across our southern border… and vote “D” when they finally get the chance. If they voted “R” every able-bodied Democrat would be on the border ALREADY building a wall.

    The goal of the Democrats is to swamp the native population, mostly white, so that they have a permanent majority. Damn the illegality, damn the cultural genocide.

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