The recent immigration ban has caused great concern since its implementation, and the Lawrence community is no exception. Concerns have only increased since President Donald Trump signed an executive order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” banning immigrants from seven different majority-Muslim countries.
“It can be a real concern and, you know, even countries that are not on the list, I would say, people are asking me, ‘could this affect me?’ and the answer is that it might,” said Director of International Student Services Leah McSorley. “I think the important thing is just to keep an eye on the news and be careful about travel.”
The ban, signed January 27, prohibits citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from travelling into the United States for a 90-day period. The United States Refugee Admissions Program has also been suspended for 120 days.
The ban has become a source of worry for students and faculty from outside of the U.S., especially those directly affected by the ban. While Trump asserts that the order is meant “to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States,” many have dubbed it a “Muslim ban” because of the apparent targeting of Muslim-majority countries.
The Lawrence administration has made conscious efforts to support students and faculty influenced by the ban. “What I hope that all members of our community feel is that we will do everything in our power and authority to support our community members and also that we’re very open to suggestions about what we can actually do as a campus community,” said President Mark Burstein.
One of these efforts to help includes offering summer employment opportunities if “students choose to stay here over the summer, because maybe they just don’t want to travel on the off chance that something happens,” McSorley said, adding, “I would definitely suggest that any international student making travel plans should talk with me to make sure that I can give the best advice possible for their individual situation.”
Julie Esch Hurvis Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life Linda Morgan-Clement has reached out to the Muslim community, asking non-Muslims to join her “in supporting those members of our community who feel alienated by changes in our national immigration policies and practices” in a campus-wide email sent last Thursday.
Burstein suggested that students and faculty affected by the ban only travel “for essential purposes,” and carry a state ID or driver’s license for identification when travelling within the United States, as opposed to a passport.” The administration has also considered the specific effects of the ban on faculty and staff. “It’s complicated to get appropriate work status in the United States,” Burstein explained. “It is certainly going to remain the same if not become more complicated. This kind of event also affects those people.”
Since the implementation of the ban, it is clear that the administration has made it a priority to support those affected. “There are some enduring values,” Burstein said, “core values for us as a liberal arts college, as a community, and one of them is to ensure that every member of this community is safe and that we create an environment in which all of them can thrive.”
Educating the community, providing resources and creating an open conversation about the future is a great start to tackle this situation. As far as the future effects of the ban, McSorley said, “I think that it will be highly scrutinized, so I feel confident that people’s voices will be heard.”