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Colleges Scramble After Trump’s Executive Order Bans Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries

[Updated (1/28/2017, 9:52 p.m.) with news of the judge's ruling.]

Colleges across the United States are rushing to respond to the news on Friday that President Trump had signed an executive order suspending admission to the United States of all refugees as well as all citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations. The main message was one many institutions had been spreading well before Friday: Students and scholars, if you might be affected by such an executive order, don’t leave the country.

Late Saturday a federal judge issued a nationwide stay of part of Mr. Trump’s order. According to The New York Times, the judge’s action affected only people stranded at airports in the United States, ruling that they should not be forced to return to their home countries.

But the judge, Ann M. Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., neither said they should be admitted to the United States nor ruled on the constitutionality of other parts of the executive order. Lawyers who had sued to block Mr. Trump’s order said the judge’s action would affect only 100 to 200 people, the Times reported.

Fallout on the academic community from such a broad order was inevitable. One Iranian student on a research trip overseas tweeted that he might be stranded there:

An official with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities told the Times that the association knew of an undergraduate student in Iran who had been stopped from boarding a flight to the United States. It is estimated that more than 15,000 international students could be affected by the ban, roughly 12,000 from Iran alone.

Meanwhile, hundreds of scholars signed a petition condemning the executive action. “This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part,” the petition says. “It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American.”

Colleges Respond

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor on Saturday issued a statement saying that it would comply with federal requirements on immigration. But its president, Mark S. Schlissel, said it would “not share sensitive information like immigration status.”

The dean of the faculty at Princeton University, Deborah Prentice, sent an email to the campus saying that the institution would continue to advise students and scholars not to travel outside the country “until there is some clarity and legal analysis of the situation.” Stanford University sent a similar message.

Chapman University on Friday sent an email to the campus urging people outside the United States who might be affected by the order to return “as soon as possible.” (According to the Times, people seeking to enter the United States on Friday night were already being stopped at airports, including refugees who were in the air when the order was signed.)

The president of George Mason University, Angel Cabrera, said on Twitter that he felt “sadly compelled” to repost a message from November entitled “You belong at Mason.”

Arne Duncan, the former U.S. secretary of education, also took to Twitter to condemn the order:

Other Effects

Ph.D. students were also among those affected. Thomas Erdbrink, the Tehran bureau chief for the Times, on Saturday morning was tweeting details of a few cases:

People in cities across the United States on Saturday were organizing protests of the executive order. Students at Columbia University have planned one such protest for Monday.

The suspensions spelled out in the order were for 120 days, except for Syrians, who were banned indefinitely. That detail is likely to intensify the fears of Syrian students in the United States, who have hoped the government would not stand in the way of admitting refugees fleeing the civil war there.

Do you know of a researcher or student stranded outside the country? Has your college responded in some way to the order? Personally, what does the order mean to you? We want to hear from you. Click here to share information, and to weigh in.

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