Federal Executive Orders Affecting Our Community

To:  University Community
From:  Ralph Kuncl, President 
Date:  January 31, 2017
Subject:  Federal Executive Orders Affecting Our Community

Last Friday the President of the United States, apparently without substantial inter-federal agency consultation or warning, signed new executive actions selectively applying to legal immigrants, residents, and visitors who hail from certain specific countries.  Confusion, disruptions, and protests at airports ensued.  Some legal, visa-holding travelers and even permanent residents with green cards were delayed in their travels or actually detained, and others were rejected and made to return immediately to their countries of origin.  While the executive orders were immediately challenged in the court system and stays were implemented, the orders continue to be enforced by the Department of Homeland Security and some local agencies.

These are curious times in our history, filled with many contradictions.  The University cannot communicate about every action – fast as they are coming – that we see as harmful to our educational mission and our people or antithetical to our values.  But this is an important national and international development that impacts higher education in unique ways.

Let me state very clearly:  We condemn in the strongest terms any apparent targeting of groups of people based on national heritage.  This is consistent with prior federal legislation, and we support the rule of law.  In 1965, through the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress banned all discrimination against immigrants on the basis of race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.

We are reaching out to members of our community affected by the current orders – affected both directly, because of national origin, and indirectly, because the actions have created a climate of fear among immigrant communities in the U.S. and around the globe.  In a memorandum prior to the holiday break, we warned undocumented students not to travel outside the U.S. if their passports or visas put them in danger of not returning safely.  Today we warn any student who holds a passport from the targeted countries, and we extend our caution to include faculty, staff, and administrators who may face the same peril if they travel. 

The U.S. president’s actions with implications for our community include:

  • Banning the entry of nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.  This action includes dual citizens of countries like the U.K., though it does not affect anyone with U.S. citizenship, and officials are now saying that it does not apply to permanent residents/green card holders.  Currently, nationals of those seven countries who reside in the U.S. legally may stay as long as their paperwork is current and they have not taken any actions that would undermine their legal status.  Again, for nationals from these countries, we discourage travel outside the U.S. because re-entry may not be possible.  Furthermore, because the order’s application to permanent residents has been unclear, they too should limit travel.

In my Annual President’s Report, coming shortly, I will discuss the considerable implications – indeed, the chilling effect – this action may have for Redlands’ ability to recruit international students.

  • Suspending the Visa Interview Waiver Program.  This means that if you will be traveling outside the U.S. and need to apply for a new visa to return, your ability to re-enter is less certain than in the past and will be delayed compared to before, because new consular interviews will no longer be waived.  Travel to the U.S. may also be delayed for nationals from the 38 countries, mostly in Europe, that participate in the Visa Waiver program, which enables most citizens or nationals of those countries to enter the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.

As I write, both the Offices of International Students and Scholars and Campus Diversity and Inclusion are contacting individual international students who are affected or are concerned that they or their families may be affected.  I encourage you to seek their support.  The Deans’ offices, the Counseling Center, and the Office of Academic Success are also available to help you.  Additionally, Human Resources will be reaching out to faculty, staff, and administrators who may be affected.  Visit this Web page for updates on the executive orders.

As for students who are with us under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the program is thus far still intact but remains threatened.  We have been comprehensive to date in our communications with the community on DACA.  We stand firm in our support of under-represented minority students and reaffirm our lawful/moral behaviors as a university.  We reiterate the lawful positions taken in our previous letter, which I attach here.

I end by restating the University of Redlands’ unshakeable belief in the value that inclusion and diversity bring to our community and in the contributions that our international students, scholars, and staff make to our campuses across southern California.

Yours very truly,

Ralph