By Victoria Bauer, Social Media Director
Leah Jones, Features Editor
This issue’s International Rationale column brings together the perspectives of both an American and an international student.
We wanted to address the infamous “travel ban” that arrived as an executive order from the pen of President Trump. The ban, which was laden with ambiguous language, did not clearly indicate those whom it banned. Even green card holders—who are normally allowed to enter and leave the country as they please—were neglected their safe return home.
In the midst of the ensuing chaos, some wondered why nationwide protests erupted in response to Trump’s executive order, whereas President Obama’s apparently similar restriction was relatively well-received. Obama’s restriction, however, did not apply to immigrants and tourists, and only resulted in a more complex and detailed screening of refugee-visa candidates and a reduction in the number of visas issued. Additionally, according to USA Today, Obama’s order only applied to one country, Iraq, and was a response to a specific threat.
Trump’s executive order, on the other hand, bans immigrants, tourists, and refugees by pandering to the xenophobic and Islamophobic fears of many Americans, despite the absence of any reasonable threat.
Many have called Trump’s travel restriction unconstitutional, and even the acting attorney general at the time of its release questioned its constitutional legitimacy. Regardless of its constitutionality, this executive order has split families apart and left legally documented permanent residents stranded.
Of particular concern is the vagueness of Trump’s order—a shortfall that has affected the University of Missouri–St. Louis community. Many of UMSL’s international students, especially those coming from the seven countries on Trump’s list, are left with doubts and fear. So we wonder, was this what the executive order intended all along?
Whatever its intent, Trump’s executive order has mobilized much of the nation, and our UMSL community in particular. School officials have reassured students that they are always welcome and that UMSL is their home; International Scholar & Student Services advisors and Counseling Services have given their undivided attention to the concerns of those affected. Students who are American citizens have asked, “What can we do to help?” Yet, there remains uncertainty over what this ban means for the nation, and what is to come. Do we really think that isolationism and the silencing of others’ voices will generate anything but misunderstanding, xenophobia, and animosity? Will these things make us “safer,” as the current administration claims that it will?
Despite our worries, we maintain hope that the responses of the American people will get the attention of the powerful and impel them to do what is right.