Immigration ban incites controversy on college campuses


President Donald Trump issued an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” January 27. Courtesy of the New York Times.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order January 27 to tighten restrictions on the admittance of refugees and immigrants to the United States. Mr. Trump’s actions directly affected the thousands of American colleges and universities who pride themselves on the diversity of their student bodies and seek to give students global opportunities.
The executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” aims to protect the American people from terrorist attacks committed by foreigners admitted to the United States, according to the New York Times. The order temporarily banned immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, according to More specifically, for the next 120 days, it suspends entry of all refugees to the United States and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. Additionally, for the next 90 days, the order bars individuals with valid visas and green card holders from the seven affected countries from re-entering the United States, according to
Mr. Trump cites the catalyst for this order as the multiple foreign-born individuals convicted for terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001. Many of these individuals were foreign nationals who entered the country under the United States refugee resettlement program after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, according to the New York Times.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” January 27. Courtesy of the New York Times.

The executive order seeks to secure America by ensuring that “those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred […] or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation,” according to the New York Times.
In effect, Mr. Trump’s executive order is threatening the core values of several of America’s universities and directly impacting the livelihood of international students and professors. Not only is the order stranding students studying abroad, but it has also led university administrators to highly advise students against leaving the country, according to  
The company College Factual, which cited 2015 data from the Department of Homeland Security, reported that almost 16,000 students who attend American colleges and universities come from countries affected by the immigration ban, according to  
Although students from the affected countries can stay at their respective schools and continue their education for the time being, many fear that they cannot leave the United States because they will not be allowed back in. They are in a state of uncertainty as they do not know how future administrative actions might affect their studies and travel, according to the New York Times.
“Most people are distracted from school. Some have been watching the news all day long. They are waiting to read something that might change the situation, or at least make them comfortable,” Mississippi State University senior and recipient of a scholarship from the Yemeni government Mr. Erfan Alkali said in observation of the events January 27, according to the New York Times.
In response to the order, the nation has seen instances of both heightened tension and unified acceptance on college campuses.
According to the New York Times, “[t]he move may be bringing to the surface hidden tensions between ambitious Middle Eastern students who have been welcomed to the United States with scholarships and job opportunities, and fellow students and other residents who believe the threat of terrorism necessitates a second look at who is let into the country.”
For example, Mr. Amir Rezazadeh, a student at Mississippi State University, comes from an Iranian city of around 150,000 people. Although he felt slightly removed upon his arrival in America, he henceforth assimilated comfortably into collegiate life.
Mississippi State University student Mr. Amir Rezazadeh and his wife Telmah at the Starkville campus. Mr. Rezazadeh was troubled by his peers’ responses to the immigration ban. Courtesy of the New York Times.

His peers’ responses to the ban troubled and hurt Mr. Rezazadeh, thus adding to his fears regarding how the order will affect himself and roughly 80 other students at Mississippi State University, according to the New York Times.
“Some people say directly to you that it’s a good order,” Mr. Rezazadeh said. “That our country should have this order to ban terrorists.”
In contrast, the ban is bringing many college communities together in opposition to Mr. Trump’s actions. For example, an outspoken sect of Mississippi State University and the surrounding town expressed support for those affected at a vigil. At this event, about 250 people gathered on an open green near the football stadium, carrying candles and holding signs boasting phrases such as “[i]mmigrants make America great,” according to the New York Times.
Not only has the order incited varied reactions from student populations, but the provosts and professors of several universities have issued statements addressing the order and its impact on international student populations.
For example, Yale University President and Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology Mr. Peter Salovey released a letter to the school community in response to the immigration ban.
“We are alarmed by this executive order. Together with many others in and beyond the Yale community, we question the motivation underlying it and recognize that it departs from long-standing policies and practices in our country. All of us are worried for colleagues, friends, and family members who may be affected by these and other changes in immigration laws,” Mr. Salovey said, according to
Moreover, Mr. Salovey writes in his letter that American institutions of higher learning share widespread distress on behalf of international students and faculty. He believes that the order discourages the rights to accessibility and open dialogue for all students and directly threatens the welfare of university communities.
“National security is of the utmost importance, but we are steadfast in asserting that this goal can be achieved while maintaining respect for core academic—and American—values,” Mr. Salovey said, according to
In a different respect, the order is bound to cause American universities to face a significant decrease in revenue due to declining enrollment on behalf of international students. Specifically, domestic colleges could lose up to $700 million in revenue per year if the immigration ban remains permanently effectual, according to
“[The order] can have very much a permanent impact because the colleges are certainly highly reliant on the international student population on U.S. campuses, and this is certainly not a way to build confidence in parents of foreign students that are trying to effectively make a four-year decision” Chief Executive Officer of College Factual Mr. Bill Phelan said, according to  
However, Federal Judge Mr. James Robart suspended the travel ban February 3. Subsequently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) halted all efforts to enact the executive order according to CNN
Consequently, as colleges and universities respond in various ways to the ethical, security, and economic implications of Mr. Trump’s executive order, they remain uncertain regarding the future of American immigration policy.
– Jade Cohen, Content Editor