North Carolina’s colleges and universities are warning their international students to avoid traveling outside the country, given the confusion that erupted over a White House executive order that temporarily bans immigrants from countries where terrorists are considered a major threat.
Heads of Davidson College, UNC Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University have all issued statements specifically citing hazards facing students and faculty from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The executive order temporarily suspended entry into the United States for refugees and nationals from those countries for 90 days.
Carol Quillen, president of Davidson College, acknowledged that federal courts have issued stays blocking parts of the order.
“However, at this point, we do not know how the legal challenges to the President's action will play out,” she said. “We caution all students, faculty and staff from the named countries, including those with dual citizenship or green cards, not to travel outside of the United States until we know more.”
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UNC Charlotte, Davidson College and Queens University of Charlotte issued statements early Monday saying they were unaware of students who were unable to return to classes in Charlotte due to the immigration ban.
Still, Chancellor Phil Dubois at UNC Charlotte urged students not to take any chances.
“The University strongly advises students, faculty and staff from those countries to refrain from travel outside the U.S. until more information is available,” said a statement from Dubois. “UNC Charlotte’s administration continues to monitor the unfolding interpretations of the president’s mandates.”
UNC Charlotte joined Duke University in saying it will not provide information on the immigration status of its students or employees unless compelled to do so by law.
Duke’s top administrators issued a statement Sunday calling President Donald Trump’s immigration order “both confusing and disturbing” and vowed that the university won’t give confidential student records to law enforcement without a subpoena.
“Duke University is committed to, and is greatly enriched by, the open exchange of students, scholars and ideas from all over the globe,” said the statement by Duke University President Richard Brodhead and Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth.
“We are deeply concerned about the well-being of students, faculty and staff who may be impacted by the policies that have now been put in place, and will join with the rest of higher education to bring these concerns to the attention of policymakers and the public.”
Chancellor Carol Folt of UNC Chapel Hill said school officials have been hearing from many people on campus who are “confused, frightened and unsure of what to do.” The college has more than 3,000 international students, staff and scholars representing 100 countries, she said.
“Those same sentiments are being expressed at universities all over the country,” Folt said. “This is a very fluid situation...and no one is really certain how this will resolve in the coming days...At present, universities across the country are advising people from the seven countries listed in the Executive Order to not travel outside of the United States.”
The restrictions on immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen have caused havoc at the nation’s airports since Friday, with immigrants headed to Charlotte among those who have been temporarily detained.
A federal judge in New York temporarily blocked part of Trump’s controversial order Saturday after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit.
Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities, issued a statement Saturday urging a quick end to the executive order.
“The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others,” said Coleman’s statement.
“We recognize the importance of a strong visa process to our nation’s security. However, the administration’s new order barring the entry or return of individuals from certain countries is already causing damage and should end as quickly as possible.”