University President John J. DeGioia announced Friday that he had joined hundreds of university presidents in signing two open letters attempting to dissuade President Donald Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly (GRD ’84) from enforcing the Jan. 27 executive order restricting immigration and refugee entry.
The signings came the same weekend the judicial branch struck down the executive order. The Ninth Circuit of Appeals denied an appeal from the Trump administration to reinstate the ban Sunday, after U.S. District Court Judge James Robart (LAW ’73) suspended the order Saturday.
The order had suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and refugees from Syria indefinitely.
DeGioia announced he had signed the letters in a post to his Facebook page Friday.
“Earlier this week, I joined other college and university presidents in signing letters regarding the January 27, 2017 Executive Order on ‘Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Entry into the United States,’” DeGioia wrote.
The first letter, organized by Princeton University, was addressed to Trump and signed by the presidents of 48 American universities, including Vanderbilt University, Columbia University and Stanford University.
The second letter was addressed to Kelly and signed by hundreds of institutions, all members of the American Council on Education. DeGioia has been Chair of the Board of Directors of ACE since March 2016.
The Princeton letter recommended that Trump take immediate action to change his decision to ban Muslims from seven majority-Muslim countries.
“We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world,” the letter reads.
The letter also asserts America’s reputation as a free nation will be harmed globally if Trump does not take immediate action.
“American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world. Their innovations and scholarship have enhanced American learning. Many who have returned to their own countries have taken with them the values that are the lifeblood of our democracy,” they wrote. “This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.”
The second letter echoed much of the same sentiment as the first, with a focus on how international students benefit the domestic population.
“International exchange is a core value and strength of American higher education. Moreover, our nation’s welcoming stance to scholars and scientists has benefited the U.S. through goodwill and a long history of scientific and technological advances that have been essential to the economic growth our country has experienced for decades.”
In his initial campuswide email Jan. 29 denouncing Trump’s decision, DeGioia wrote about the need for interfaith cohesion on Georgetown’s campus.
“Guided by our mission, we have placed a special emphasis on interreligious dialogue and our openness to different faith traditions and cultures,” DeGioia wrote. “This includes our efforts to support a diverse and vibrant Muslim community on campus.”
DeGioia’s actions have been joined by other senior administrators.
Professor Charles King, who is the chair of the government department, said in a Jan. 29 email the department is working to support students and faculty affected by the order.
Additionally, School of Foreign Service Dean Joel Hellman wrote in a Jan. 29 email to SFS faculty that Trump’s order is “a challenge to the very values upon which the SFS was created and for which we have championed for nearly a century.”
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