U.S. professors take stand against executive order on immigration — we can, too

Thousands of professors from across the U.S. have signed on to a letter protesting the president’s January 27 Executive Order banning the entry of refugees and immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and four other predominantly Muslim countries into the United States:

“The people whose status in the United States would be reconsidered are our students, friends, colleagues, and members of our communities,” the professors write. “The implementation will necessarily tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the U.S. and limiting the ability to travel for those who reside and work in the U.S. These restrictions would be applied to nearly all individuals from these countries, regardless of their immigration status or any other circumstances. This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American.”

Click here for the full letter and instructions for how to sign on.

The concerns raised in the letter are of course applicable to WMU faculty and students. Two incidents that occurred this weekend hit particularly close to home:

  • A Stanford graduate student originally from Sudan was detained and handcuffed at JFK airport in New York on Saturday. The student, a Harvard graduate, is a legal resident of the United States, where she has lived since 1993.
  • Two faculty members at UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Dr. Arghavan Louhghalam, were detained at Logan airport in Boston on Saturday on their way back from attending an academic conference in France. Professors Tootkaboni and Louhghalam are both originally from Iran and have legal resident status in the United States. A district court ruling in Boston early Sunday ordered their release and blocks similar detentions at Logan.

In November 2016, the WMU-AAUP faculty voted by an overwhelming margin to approve a Resolution in Solidarity with Western Michigan University Students, including the international and immigrant students for whom the Executive Order raises immediately pressing fears. The Resolution was a good first step, but now we must do more to stand in solidarity with these students and with our international and immigrant colleagues.

What can we do to help?

  1. Talk with students and colleagues. Make sure they know we have their backs, that we will support them, that we will listen to them, and that we will not betray them.
  2. Contact President Dunn and urge him to take a public stand in support of our international and immigrant students and colleagues. Updated January 31: Read President Dunn’s statement here.
  3. Print out a copy of the Resolution of Solidarity and post it on your office door and/or contact the WMU-AAUP office to request a solidarity card for your office door.
  4. Sign on to the Academics Against Immigration Executive Order letter and share it with colleagues.
  5. Join or donate to the American Civil Liberties Union to help them bring legal challenges against discriminatory activities resulting from the Executive Order and follow them on Twitter to stay up to date on their progress.
  6. Participate in demonstrations against the Executive Order and use social media as another way to make visible your support for and solidarity with students and colleagues.
  7. Check in frequently with your favorite news sources to keep informed about this developing story. Things are happening fast and changing constantly and are likely to continue to do so.
    • For example, a federal judge in New York blocked a key provision of the Executive Order Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement suggesting that it may not comply with the rulings.
    • A White House spokesman now (as of Sunday morning, January 29) “appears to be walking back” the part of the Executive Order that would ban re-entry into the U.S. for permanent legal residents with green cards.

Links to more info about this developing story:

Some Colleges Warning Foreign Students on Travel After Trump’s Immigration Order, by Michael Edison Hayden. ABC News, January 28, 2017.

As protests roiled, professors who were detained at Logan airport waited, by Nestor Ramos. Boston Globe, January 29, 2017.

U.S. colleges rush to help students, scholars affected by Trump’s immigration order, by Valerie Strauss. Washington Post, January 29, 2017.

Sudanese student at Stanford detained, handcuffed at JFK airport, by Queenie Wong. San Jose Mercury News, January 28, 2017.

University of Michigan president states support for international students, by Martin Slagter. MLive, January 29, 2017.

Oklahoma University President David Boren affirms support for students, staff affected by immigration ban in statement, by Greg Brown. Fox 23 News (Tulsa, OK), January 29, 2017.

Colleges brace to shield students from immigration raids, by Alan Gomez. USA Today, January 26, 2017.

Colleges Are Warning Thousands Of Muslim International Students Not To Travel, by Molly Hensley-Clancy. Buzzfeed, January 28, 2017.

Protests erupt at airports around the U.S. following Trump travel ban, Fox News, January 29, 2017.

Protesters Rally as Doctors, Students Blocked From Entering Country After Trump’s Orders, by Eli Rosenberg, Perry Russom and Melissa Buja. NBC Boston, January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS: Thousands Protest At Airports Nationwide Against Trump’s Immigration Order, by James Doubek. NPR, January 29, 2017.