An executive order signed by President Trump late Friday afternoon immediately barring immigrants and non-immigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. has had immediate effects on scholars and students nationwide. More than 17,000 students in the U.S. come from the seven countries affected by the immediate 90-day entry ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
We are currently not aware of any PLU students or scholars who directly were impacted by the ban this weekend, however, we are mindful that the families of some of our students may be impacted. Many in our community, while not traveling and immediately affected, are still experiencing impact, including anxiety and uncertainty about future travel and the potential for profiling.
Several federal judges have temporarily blocked the deportations of individuals from the seven countries who found themselves trapped in airports nationwide after the ban went into effect. The entry ban, however, remains in place.
Mr. Trump’s executive order only deals with entry to the U.S. It does not direct the removal of those already present, but it does mean that people who are lawfully present from the seven affected countries might not be able to get back into the country if they leave, even those who hold student visas that allow such travel.
The executive order is not aimed at those already on American campuses and students and scholars continue to have the right to study here; however, we do not know with any certainty, what American policy will be going forward, and what will happen after the 90-day “vetting” period. As with our stated commitments to DACA and DACA-eligible students, I want to assure students and scholars that PLU remains firmly committed to the well being of ALL of our students and employees regardless of their religious beliefs or national origin. We will do all in our power to provide a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment where the foundational American values of intellectual freedom, religious freedom, and freedom of expression are honored.
The PLU community joins with millions of Americans of all faiths, leaders of local and state government, and other community leaders to say we will step up our own efforts to provide direct support to immigrants and refugees who are threatened by these new policies.
We believe these new executive orders violate our Lutheran values and what it means to be an American. As people of faith, we are called to love and serve our neighbors from near and far, particularly those most vulnerable to violence and persecution. We honor the God who commands that “the stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers…” As Americans, we know the great contributions that immigrants and refugees make to our nation’s culture, history and economy, enriching our life together. Welcoming the stranger is at the heart of the American story and at the heart of PLU’s mission to “educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership and care – for other people, for their communities and for the Earth.”
Concerned students can find support and helpful resources in the Campus Ministry Office and the Counseling Center. For travel advice, students should consult with the Wang Center for Global Education regarding Study Away, and International Student Services regarding travel as an international student.
I invite all in the PLU community to join me in supporting our Muslim neighbors, including our own Muslim Student Association (MSA). Our differences are, without question, a blessing. And, our institution’s grounding in the values of the Lutheran tradition instructs us that love can cast out fear. We must act boldly for the vision of an America where the most vulnerable are protected and welcomed, and recognized and valued for the contributions that they make to our shared communities.
Thomas W. Krise, Ph.D.
President and Professor of English