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Indiana University Students and Faculty React to Immigration Order

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Repercussions from President Trump’s executive order banning refugees, immigrants, and travelers from seven Middle Eastern countries are developing around the state. Indiana University released a statement advising international students that they should suspend plans to travel outside of the United States for fear of not being able to return. Stephen Katz, Chair of IU’s Near Eastern Language and Culture department was asked as to whether any faculty were currently in transit or experiencing travel difficulties.

Professor Katz responded: “Not to my knowledge. At this point, no. Our concern is more with those who are being invited as guests from targeted countries. They probably will not be allowed into the country. I know that some family members of some of our faculty who were due today from Syria, have been notified that they will not be allowed in; so they did not get on the plane. Otherwise, we advise our graduate students and our faculty who are affected to not leave the country at this point.”

Professor Katz also said no faculty were in immediate danger from visa expirations or other issues that would require them to leave the country, but many overseas students are dependent on visas to enter the country to study. Some students may be unable to complete their education at IU if their visas expire and the travel ban is still in effect.

The Herald-Times reported that one professor, who holds citizenship in Canada and Iran and a green card in the US, was on the way to Tel Aviv when he saw social media reports that green card holders were being detained at airports. He canceled the rest of his trip and returned to Bloomington.

Reactions to the travel ban continue to unfold around the state. On Sunday, a crowd of roughly 1,000 protesters assembled on the courthouse square to protest the ban. 

Some of the protesters yesterday said Bloomington should become a sanctuary city, meaning it would take steps to protect immigrants from federal immigration laws.

The city’s communications director, Mary Catherine Carmichael, says the city administration is exploring that possibility.

“We’re looking at various definitions of sanctuary cities, what that means, what it doesn’t mean,  and what the legal implications are,” Carmichael said. “It’s actually a more complicated issue, and has become a term that different communities have applied differently.”

Carmichael says she expects to release a statement about the issue later this week. There is not a precise legal definition of the term, sanctuary city, but most sanctuary cities prohibit law enforcement or other municipal employees from asking about a person’s immigration status. Carmichael says Mayor John Hamilton is concerned about the effects of Trump’s executive order.

“Mayor Hamilton is deeply interested and deeply concerned about the unfortunate choices that are coming out of the White House,” she said. “It is something that he does not take lightly. He is watching other communities and what they are doing. Certainly pleased to see that President McRobbie came out with a strongly-worded statement; but again, interested in making a truly meaningful statement, not one based on anything but fact.”

Other protests were held at the Indianapolis airport and in several other cities around the state. The airport protest included appearances from Indiana senator Joe Donnelly and representative Andre Carson, who is the second Muslim to be elected to Congress.

Outside of Indiana, protests swept the country, focusing on major airports where incoming travelers from the banned countries were being detained. The ACLU, which obtained a court order for their release, reported raising $10 million over the weekend. In Montreal, six worshipers at a mosque were shot and killed shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared that Canada would take refugees banned by the US.

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