By Dean E. Hoke, Co-Founder and Managing Director Edu Alliance North America
On January 27th President Trump signed an executive order imposing a 90-day entry ban on all citizens of seven nations Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and directing a review and reform of visa procedures, the executive order calls for a 120-day suspension of all refugee admissions and an indefinite suspension on the entry of all Syrian refugees. Omitted from the list are a number of other Muslim nations in which citizens from those countries have been linked to terrorist attacks in the U.S. or have active ISIS operations in their country.
By the evening of the 28th the ACLU requested and received a temporary hold on from federal judges who put some limits on the executive order, but the overall thrust of it remained intact. While many were shocked that the President issued this executive order, he made it clear he would issue such an order, and in fact, CNN reports he will likely expand the order to other Muslim majority populations. Last week some academic institutions had begun preparing for the possibility and warning its international students and faculty not to travel outside the United States.
The Washington Post is reporting U.S. colleges and universities are rushing to help students and scholars affected by President Trump’s order and academic leaders are warning that the executive action could cause irreparable harm to American higher education. Stories are emerging that some faculty and students are stranded overseas, unable to return to their schools or start planned study and research.
The response of higher education community has been immediate.
The University of Michigan released a statement on Saturday that flatly refused to release the immigration status of their students. In a public news release The University of Michigan stated:
“In accordance with federal law, the enforcement of immigration law rests with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection. Campus police will not partner with federal, state, or other local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration law except when required to do so by law. The university maintains a strong commitment to the privacy of student records for all students, consistent with state and federal laws. We do not provide information on immigration status to anyone except when required by law”.
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger in an email, sent to the Columbia community after midnight on Sunday, Bollinger stated that the immigration ban conflicts with the “fundamental values” of the University and goes against its “basic mission.”
Others education organizations such as The Association of American Universities issued the following statement “the administration’s new order barring the entry or return of individuals from certain countries is already causing damage and should end as quickly as possible. The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others.”
“We also urge the administration, as soon as possible, to make clear to the world that the United States continues to welcome the most talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship at our universities,” the AAU statement continues. “It is vital to our economy and the national interest that we continue to attract the best students, scientists, engineers, and scholars.”
Peter McPherson, the president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said in a statement, “The impact of this decision goes beyond those immediately impacted. Our nation’s universities are enriched and strengthened by the talent, insight, and culture that international students, faculty, researchers and staff bring. With appropriate and effective vetting, international students from all countries and of all religions have long been a core part of our campus communities, and that should continue uninterrupted. We are also concerned that this decision adds great uncertainty to international students, researchers and others who might consider coming to our campuses.”
The United States higher education system has over 1 million international students attending, and ten’s of thousand of their faculty and staff are foreign-born. Many are foreign-born Muslim students and faculty.”
I believe colleges and universities will be damaged economically, academically, culturally, and morally. There is little doubt that international students from Muslim nations are looking at other countries such as Canada and China as are Indian students who have become worried about being welcomed and their safety.
The International student population will drop for the foreseeable future while the United States is looked at as uninviting and perceived by some as hostile and dangerous. The state and private colleges and universities need to immediately find ways to protect their current students and faculty as much as possible and develop plans and campaigns to regain its statues in securing the best and the brightest of students and faculty despite the actions of the Trump administration. This may well mean multiple universities working together and lobbying its alumni, corporate supporters and local, state and federal officials to reverse course. The current administration, as well as many House and Senate members, believe it has the support of the public in restricting or banning foreigners using the logic these people are a danger to the nation. The higher education community and its supporters need to lobby at local and federal levels to make it clear this is not the case, and its hurts America rather than protect it.