University of Arizona officials criticized U.S. President Trump's immigration and refugee ban, saying the approach violates the principles on which university communities are based.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart expressed "serious concerns" about the executive order, which bars U.S. entry to citizens of seven countries that are majority Muslim. Those countries are: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
"We are deeply concerned for the well-being and treatment of our foreign students, scholars, researchers and professors," she said. Hart urged international students to postpone their international travel plans until the "matter is resolved."
There are 174 students, scholars, faculty and staff members from those countries at the University of Arizona, 28 of whom are UA employees with permanent resident status, according to Pam Scott, a UA spokeswoman. That also includes 81 undergraduate and graduate students.
The UA, which is home to about 12,000 international students and staff in total, does not know of any student, scholar, faculty or staff member who may be unable to return to the United States or detained at airports, said Suzanne Panferov, associate vice president of global initiatives.
"This seems to be the final nail in the coffin of sorts," she said. The UA was already experiencing reduced international student enrollment. Now with the executive order, a perception that the U.S. is not open to immigrants and refugees would worsen the matter.
International students and scholars' fear really came to the surface last fall, she said. "Students have been asking if they could travel home."
The global initiatives office will continue to provide resources and work with students and scholars with overseas travel plans, Panferov said. It plans to launch web resources intended for those who might be affected, as well as others who might be traveling to one of the seven banned countries.
The political infrastructure for this sort of ban on immigration has already been in place before Trump took office, said Ana Ghoreishian, an Iranian-American PhD student in the UA's history department who immigrated about 30 years ago. Only this time, it lacks political subtlety and is happening at a new level of bluntness.
"I really feel like we're in a crisis and a difficult situation as a collective," she said of the political climate surrounding the ban. "I just really hope that we try to understand each other's position and try to find ways to move forward."
Ghoreishian said she has friends and relatives who had planned on coming to the U.S. on student visas and friends in the U.S. who had planned on traveling to the Middle East for research. "Now they can't do that."
On top of that, now Iran is saying it will ban Americans. "I can't go to Iran," she said. "I can't do my work. I can't see my friends and family. It's emotional. Aside from all the violations of international law and human rights, these are very real things to people."
Ghoreishian said she was pleasantly surprised that the UA president took a position on the matter and that she hopes the university would extend its vast resources to help students, scholars, faculty and staff members who may end up in tough situations as a result of the executive order.
She does not foresee traveling to Iran any time soon, she said. "I'm just not going to take that risk."