DENVER — A Denver college student is fighting back against President Donald Trump’s travel ban for immigrants and refugees.
Zakaria Hagig, 24, filed a civil rights lawsuit against Trump and others, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday morning.
Attorneys Alan Kennedy-Shaffer and Morgan Carroll are representing Hagig pro bono.
Hagig came to the U.S. to study at the Community College of Denver because of the opportunities offered there a little more than two years ago.
“When I first got here, I felt like I am equal, just like everybody else, no matter what skin color, no matter what religion you practice. That’s the unique thing about the United States, the diversity,” he said.
But Friday, that changed.
“After the executive order he signed, I feel like I am targeted just because of my race and my religion,” Hagig said.
The 24-year-old is Muslim and from Libya, one of seven Muslim-majority countries linked to concerns about terrorism.
“To keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here,” Trump said when signing the executive order last week.
“I have nothing to do with that. I am here to study. I am here a full-time student,” Hagig said.
“He was very nervous filing a lawsuit against the president of the United States,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
Hagig filed a civil rights lawsuit claiming the executive order discriminates against his religion and place of birth by preventing him from leaving the U.S. and returning.
“If he leaves the United States, for a family emergency or a death or illness, if he travels to Libya or steps into Canada, he is banned from coming back into the U.S.,” Kennedy-Shaffer said.
“I did not violate a single law. Why is he stopping me from re-entering the country and finishing my education just because of my race and religion?” Hagig asked.
But Hagig is heartened by the nationwide, even worldwide, support for immigrants and refugees.
“I feel like people are united, love each other, stand for truth and what is right,” he said.
And they hope this lawsuit goes beyond what protests can do — to force the Trump administration to stop.
“That will send two messages. First, that no one is above the law and second, that human rights are truly universal,” Hagig said.
The lawsuit asks a federal court to declare Trump’s executive order as unlawful and to strike it down.
This is the first lawsuit challenging the executive order in Colorado.
Civil rights lawyers have also filed suit in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Virginia and New York.