Katirai and Puig Op-Eds Express Concerns about Trump-Era Policies, Treatment of Minorities

In a series of opinion pieces published across various outlets, assistant clinical professor Negar Katirai and associate professor of law Sergio Puig express concern concern and fear about the ripple effects of President Donald Trump's actions in his first month of office. Katirai is director of the University of Arizona Law Community Law Group and is married to Puig, who directs the college's International Economic Law and Policy program.

Read excerpts of their op-eds below.

USA Today
"Muslim-Mexican scapegoats in Trump's America"
Negar Katirai and Sergio Puig
Feb. 1, 2017

Katirai's family fled Iran in 1980, and Puig's home country is Mexico. They express fear for the safety of their family and concerns that relatives abroad can no longer visit:

My husband and I are law professors and have previously worked in corporate law firms, international organizations and think tanks where we supported and advanced American interests. Until Trump’s presidency became a reality, we thought our family was the future of this country. Now we wonder if we should look for another home.

In his inauguration speech, Trump described “American carnage,” building on his campaign rhetoric of a country under siege from refugees and immigrants, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. Behind this rhetoric of “America first” is an attempt to redefine who belongs in America and who doesn’t. In this definition, my family and I are the scapegoats. And we are feeling the flames of the sacrificial fire.

We have friends in the United States who are afraid to wear head scarves or other signifiers of their Muslim faith. We have friends who are afraid to speak Spanish and Persian in public, the former for fear they will be targeted as “illegals” and the latter for fear that they will be targeted as terrorists.

What gives us hope is the outpouring of support for detained travelers across the country. The protests and legal actions that have sprung up in response to Trump's executive order suggest an alternate narrative to the xenophobia espoused from his White House. This show of solidarity — from protesters, lawyers, representatives and my own supportive neighbors and friends  — have reassured me of one thing: The best of America is standing up for inclusive American values in response to the fear-mongering promoted by the worst of America.

Read the full op-ed here.

Huffington Post
"Demeaning Mexico is Not in America's Interest"
Sergio Puig and Gregory Shaffer (Chancellor's Professor of Law, Director of the Center of Globalization, Law, and Society at University of California, Irvine)
Feb. 5, 2017

Just over a week into his administration, President Trump has taken multiple steps that forebode economic, geopolitical and humanitarian trouble for our southern neighbor. It may be popular among xenophobes, but it is not in America’s interest.

America’s president’s recent rhetoric is the latest in a series of directives that could lead to the collapse of the U.S.-Mexico partnership.

Mr. Trump made three primary pledges during his campaign—to withdraw from NAFTA unless Mexico accepts his terms, build a wall across the southern border and have Mexico pay for it, and deport undocumented Mexican migrants in mass. If he implements them, he could sever the relationship beyond repair. This would constitute a huge geopolitical mistake. Not only could these policies devastate Mexico, they will tarnish America’s reputation around the world and possibly upend the institutions that America created after World War II and the Cold War to protect global prosperity. They will, moreover, empower illiberal regimes, such as Russia and China.

Read the full op-ed here.

Ms. Magazine
"We Must Protect the Violence Against Women Act"
Negar Katirai
Feb. 6, 2017

Our newly elected president has indicated he will cut funding for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as part of his plan to eliminate government “waste.” Not only is this proposed cut bad policy, but it is indicative of a much more disturbing trend: the normalization of violence against women.

Of all the women murdered in the United States, one-third are killed by an intimate partner, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1,181 American women were murdered by their partners in 2005. That’s three women per day. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 232,960 U.S. women were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That averages out to about 600 a day.

In our law clinic at the University of Arizona we represent intimate partner violence survivors to obtain protection orders against abusers. My students have witnessed firsthand how intimate partner violence manifests as a pattern of behavior to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Contrary to how intimate partner violence is often depicted in films and television, survivors do not provoke the abuse and are not masochists.

One important step is to challenge victim-blaming and attempts to normalize violence against women in your every-day life. 

We also must demand that our representatives take a stand against the normalization of violence against women.  To be sure, there are those who may allege violence when none occurred, but just as we do not let such outliers deter us from investigating property theft, we should not let it stop us from investigating and addressing intimate partner violence.  Call or address your representative now about how defunding the violence against women act betrays half of our population.

Read the full op-ed here.

Work published by University of Arizona Law faculty represents the views of the authors, not the college.