Thousands from the academia community signed a petition against President Donald Trump’s executive order, barring immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 to 120 days.
The petition, Academics Against Executive Order, started Jan. 27, the day the immigration ban was announced. It has garnered over 30,000 signatures and counting, including more than 30 members of the DePaul academia community.
The order bans citizens from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia from entering the U.S. for 90 days, indefinitely blocks Syrian refugees from entering, and prevents the U.S. from accepting refugees from countries other than Syria for 120 days.
“I view the executive order as discriminatory and cruel,” said DePaul assistant professor Meghan Condon, who signed the petition. “It goes against our national core values of religious freedoms, racial equity and care for the vulnerable. Some of our best students at DePaul, and at universities across the country, are immigrants or refugees. The educational experience of all of our students — native born and immigrant — are enriched by the perspectives that these students bring to the university.”
DePaul President, Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, responded to the order on Monday in an email to all DePaul staff, faculty and students. He reminded students of the resources available to the DePaul community, including the University Counseling Services, DePaul Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic and the International Student and Scholar Services.
“People from all countries and of all religions are welcome at DePaul,” he wrote. “As such, we will take every action within the law to protect everyone within our community, including Muslim students, faculty and staff in the United States and from other countries, just as we remain unwavering in our support of undocumented students during these uncertain times.”
Members from the academic community can virtually sign the petition at notoimmigrationban.com. However, due to the large volume of visitors, names may take days to update. The petition outlines how the order negatively impacts the academic community, citing the discriminatory nature of the ban, its impact on international students and researchers and the burden it havocs on academia as a whole.
“These bans, as proposed, have consequences that reach beyond the scope of national security,” the petition reads. “The unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States. We strongly denounce this ban and urge the President to reconsider going forward with this Executive Order.”
Condon signed the petition without hesitation, not only as a political scientist, but as a concerned citizen.
“I try and keep my own personal views out of the classroom and present different perspectives and guide students to form their own opinions,” she said. “(…) But this specific executive order feels quite different. I think it cuts across fundamental democratic norms and values. This is a partisan issue, but I think this is discriminatory in a way that is problematic for people of all ideologies.”
The ban comes after President Donald Trump promised to put national security first during his presidential campaign. The ban is just one of the actions he has taken since his inauguration more than two weeks ago. He has also promised to build a wall along the Mexico – U.S. border.
But associate professor Glen Carman believes Trump has it wrong, in regards to national security, and is doing exactly what ISIS and other extreme terrorist groups want.
“This (immigration order) actually makes us less safe,” Carman said. “We are defining the struggle the way that ISIS wants us to. This will help them recruit people right here. (The executive order) will make people feel alienated from their own country. And, this is dangerous for refugees who were counting on coming here. We are leaving them high and dry – that’s a terrible thing to do to people.”
Many have responded through protests and demonstrations across the country, and the order has been challenged by lawyers, law-makers and judges of the highest court. On Monday, the acting Attorney General of the United States, Sally Yates refused to enforce the order because she was not convinced of its legality. Hours later, Trump relieved Yates of her duties and appointed Dana J. Boente as the new acting Attorney General.
Bamshad Mobasher, Computing and Digital Media professor and president of University Faculty Council, sees the impact the order has on the DePaul community and international students, and is showing support by signing the petition.
“At DePaul, we pride ourselves in Vincentian values,” Mobasher said. “Part of that is to promote and support social justice. I felt a responsibility to sign this and do whatever else I can to protest this.”
Traveling internationally, Mobasher said, is a big part of some students’ training while studying at DePaul. He says the ban presents barriers for students to do so.
Though the order does not impact naturalized citizens, the day it was signed, confusion spread throughout the country as mixed interpretations were provided across airports and border patrols. Some green card and visa holders reported being blocked from entering the U.S. altogether, though the ban should permit green and visa holders to enter.
Still, leaving the country poses unwanted risks for many students altogether.
“Right now, some students have to decide if they would give up their education,” Mobasher said. “Because if they leave, they run the risk of not being able to come back.”