University officials are working to assess how the Georgetown community would be impacted by an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, which temporarily bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States.
A report compiled by the university registrar’s office provided to The Hoya identified about 20 undergraduate students currently at Georgetown on student visas who are citizens of the seven countries named in the order: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya.
According to a summary of the order compiled by university staff, these students will not be able to re-enter the United States if they leave during the 90-day ban. University President John DeGioia expressed his concern about the ban in a campuswide email Jan. 29.
“The implications of this order are significant and concerning,” DeGioia said. “We are an institution that values the contributions of our international students, staff and faculty, and we are deeply committed to interreligious dialogue and providing a context in which members of all faith backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged to practice their faith.”
Media Relations Manager Ryan King said none of the students are currently overseas and the university is not aware of any students abroad who may be unable to return. He added that the university may not yet fully understand the implications of the order.
“We are continuing to examine the effect of the Executive Order on the Georgetown community,” King wrote in an email to The Hoya.
In addition to the seven-nation entry ban, the executive order also bans admission of refugees from all countries for 120 days and the migration of Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order applies to about 800 refugees who had already cleared a multi-step vetting process that can take as long as two years, according to a report by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees.
The order has received condemnation from Georgetown administrators, faculty and student groups. In an email on Sunday to the School of Foreign Service faculty obtained by The Hoya, SFS Dean Joel Hellman wrote that the order challenges the values of the SFS.
“There is the risk to our community members who will be directly impacted by the ban,” Hellman wrote. “More broadly, there is the challenge to the very values upon which the SFS was created and for which we have championed for nearly a century.”
Professor Charles King, who is the chair of the government department, said in an email Sunday obtained by The Hoya forwarding Hellman’s email to government department faculty that the department will work to support all students and faculty affected by the order.
“The idea of a wholesale ban on travel from particular countries, as well as the specific association of national security and a cultural-religious category -— implicit in the executive order, explicit in the public rhetoric — are inimical to the professed values of this university,” King wrote. “We will continue to support and protect all members of our community, regardless of their status.”
The Georgetown University Student Association senate passed a resolution Sunday expressing solidarity with Muslim students and refugees.
“We condemn the Executive Order on refugees and travel from Muslim-majority countries issued by President Trump on January 27th,” the resolution reads. “We urge the University to provide all necessary resources to support any Georgetown University community member who is affected adversely by this Order.”
In a statement posted to the group’s Facebook page, the Georgetown University College Republicans Executive Board denounced the order.
“Although we understand the grave threats that our country faces from radical Islamist terrorism, we do not believe that security should trump humanity.” the statement reads. “Our Board believes that this policy will debilitate our international credibility and will isolate pivotal allies who are crucial to the war on terror.”
The Georgetown University College Democrats later shared the College Republicans’ Facebook post, writing in a post that the group was “so proud” to be working alongside them.
“Trump’s recent executive actions on immigration and refugee asylum are not issues of partisanship — these actions constitute grave violations of our country’s founding principles and encapsulate the cruel effects on a government whose policies are guided by fear, power and bigotry,” the statement reads.
After hundreds of refugees and others flying to the United States were detained at airports across the country over the weekend, protests and legal action have emerged in cities and airports nationwide.
The Trump administration has held firm on the order, although the seven-nation entry ban was walked back Sunday after significant backlash to no longer include legal permanent residents. In a statement posted to his Facebook page, Trump said the order is necessary to protect American citizens.
“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and home of the brave,” the statement reads.
Research professor Elizabeth Ferris, who is also a senior fellow at the think-tank Brookings Institution and has written about refugees, said the order is misguided, as refugees are not a security threat and current vetting procedures are already strong.
“There is this misguided notion that refugees are somehow terrorists or linked to terrorists, and yet the reality is that these are people who are fleeing violence,” Ferris said. “They’re not a threat. The vetting procedures that have been put into place the last couple years are extreme. We’ve protested for a year that they’re too much, that the delays are too long.”
Government professor Andrew Bennett, who specializes in American foreign policy, said he is concerned about the impacts the order will have on the United States’ standing in the world.
“I share the concern of foreign policy professionals and terrorism experts in both parties,” Bennett wrote in an email to The Hoya. “President Trump’s hasty executive order on immigration, and the haphazard decision process behind it, are damaging to American interests and the fight against terrorism.”
Correction: This article previously stated GUSA unanimously passed a resolution expressing solidarity with Muslim students and refugees; one GUSA senator, Hunter Estes (SFS ’19), voted against the resolution. This article also previously stated 23 undergraduate students were currently at Georgetown on student visas who are citizens of the seven countries named in the order; about 20 students are currently at Georgetown on student visas who are citizens of the seven nations named in the order.
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