Students meet with district congressman


Members of the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force talk to Congressman Ted Lieu. Printed with permission of Harry Garvey

Alena Rubin

Rep. Ted Lieu met with the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force to discuss the Syrian refugee crisis Feb. 16.

The club supported Lieu’s vote against House Resolution 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which would have drastically reduced the number of Syrian refugees permitted to enter the United States by expanding the screening process in their entry to the country.

The Act was passed in the House of Representatives, but it was rejected by the Senate. President Obama later announced that if the Senate had passed the bill, he would have vetoed it.

“We supported people in Congress voting ‘no’ on House Resolution 4038 because it puts unfair restrictions on refugees from Syria, and we think that is a violation of the basic human rights of refugees,” club member Harry Garvey ’18 said.

The club thanked Lieu for helping reject the act and delivered him handwritten thank you cards signed by other members of the community.

In the meeting, club members also learned more about Lieu’s plans to hold a screening of “Salam Neighbor,” a film documenting life as a Syrian refugee, on Capitol Hill March 14.

The Student Task Force, whose purpose is to expose students to current international issues and share their opinions with legislatures, also screened the film Feb. 22 at Harvard-Westlake.

“The conference went really smoothly, and it gave us an insight into the workings of the Congress,” Garvey said. “We taught him some things, and he taught us some things. [It was] definitely a unique experience. I never thought that I would talk to someone in such a high-level government position.”

The club also hosted a tent on the quad Feb. 22 to raise awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis.

The tent displayed the types of food that refugees eat and provided information about the general conditions of refugees. Students were also able to observe a small backpack that held the typical amount of items refugees are permitted to take out of their countries.