ZAKARIA HAGIG FIGHTS BACK
On Jan. 25, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” which placed a travel ban on seven countries in the Middle East. This ban, according to The New York Times, “indefinitely barred Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days, and blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries—refugees or otherwise—from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.”
This Executive Order sparked protests across the country and was immediately considered unconstitutional by many. People gathered in airports and city streets to protest the commonly referenced ban and make clear that they did not support it. Lawyers began working pro-bono alongside protesters to help those affected by the Immigration Order return safely to their loved ones.
For one Auraria Campus student, the Executive Order encouraged him to file a lawsuit against the government and the action itself.
Community College of Denver student Zakaria Hagig is a junior and a business major. He is also from Libya, one of the seven countries that are restricted by the Executive Order. “It is unconstitutional, unlawful, and un-American,” Hagig said. “I volunteered to file a lawsuit to represent all the international students, everyone who is in the same situation that I am right now.”
Hagig is currently separated from five family members in Libya as he attempts to get an education in America.
Deciding to file a lawsuit wasn’t easy for Hagig. “It was a hard decision, to be honest,” Hagig said. “When Trump first signed the Executive Order, a lot of people were affected, including me. The ban on these countries is actually affecting the economy, the immigrants themselves, and students like me, for example, who want to see their families and who got stuck at the airports because they couldn’t re-enter the country to continue their education.”
Hagig is not only fighting for his own rights, but for the rights of everyone affected by the Executive Order. “There are people who are here and went to visit their family during breaks or holidays and now they’re trapped,” Hagig said. “I have spoken to so many international students who come from these seven countries. They’re afraid. They don’t know what to do. They’re asking themselves, are we going to get deported just because we are Muslims? Just because we come from these countries?”
The lawsuit has since become a class action lawsuit and is on a course to the Supreme Court, which would entail a victory for everyone affected by the Order. If he wins the lawsuit, Hagig and everyone affected by the Order would be able to travel freely.
Due to the rise in protests, Hagig shares that he has never felt more support. “We’re all standing together to fight the same thing,” Hagig said. “We stand together and we fight together because we want to prove that no one is above the law. We have to prove that human rights are truly universal. And if we lose the case, it’s going to be a negative message. It shows that the most wealthy and powerful people out there can do whatever they want.”