Fontbonne Remains Loyal to International Students Despite Immigration Ban

(The Immigration Ban Protest at the Lambert International Airport on January 29. Photo credits: Hannah Kammerich)

Written by Brittany Hanewinkel

 President Donald Trump declared an executive order on January 28th, 2017. The order bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. This decision also prevents refugees from being accepted into the United States for 120 days.

The Fontbonne community expressed a strong response to this shocking news. In an email sent to the Fontbonne community on January 30th, president Dr. Michael Pressimone willed international students to contact the international affairs office if concerned.    

“We want you to know that you are welcome on our campus to study, share, pray and be part of our community. We are here to support you.” Pressimone continued.

Trump believes his actions will “keep radical Islamic Terrorists out of the United States of America.”

The executive decision does not apply to non-U.S. citizens. Those who hold temporary visas may be affected if choosing to travel while the ban is in effect.  

The seven banned countries include Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities approved a statement made by Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas.

“We will work vigorously to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed in collaboration with Catholic Charities, without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans, and to ensure that families may be reunified with their loved ones.”

On February 1st, Fontbonne participated in World Hijab Day to celebrate the beauty of students who wear hijabs.

(Fontbonne students supporting their Muslim classmates by participating in World Hijab Day. Photo credits: Kelsey Herschel)

Jessica Hylton, Fontbonne’s Assistant Director of International Advising feels that it is too soon to know the ramifications international students may face. “As the Executive Order is still very new and the legal ramifications are still being researched, it is too early to make a blanket statement in regards to the effects it will have on the Fontbonne University international community.  At this time, we offer support and the best guidance we can with the knowledge we currently have and we ask that the Fontbonne University Community stand with our international students, faculty, and staff.”

Meanwhile, Hannah Kammerich, a sophomore at Fontbonne University, joined the protest at Lambert International Airport following the announcement of President Trump’s executive order on January 28.

(Kammerich at the Lambert International Airport protest on January 28, 2017. Photo credits: Hannah Kammerich)

Lambert International Airport was one of eighty airports to host protests of United States Citizens, many of whom toted signs like the one pictured above.

“While I’m not directly affected by the ban, I feel passionate about advocating for the refugees who are living in terror. I participated in the protests at the airport because I strongly believe that it is a human right to seek asylum.” Kammerich voiced.

Kammerich is not the first among Fontbonne students to take action against President Trump’s executive order.

International students like senior, Osama Alharthy, find hope in the protests and outpour of support on social media during this tense time.

“It is really bad to treat people poorly who come to a specific country based on religion, background or even their nationality. However, when you see all the people in social media who are against that ban, that gives me a lot of hope that most American are against this horrible ban, and the idea of immigration ban does not represent them as a united society.” Alharthy revealed.

Esther D. Brimmer, CEO of NAFSA (National Association of Foreign Student Advisors), released a public statement in response to these recent changes.

“To the students, scholars, doctors, refugees, family members and others who wonder if the United States has lost its commitment to its core values as a nation of freedom, opportunity and welcome, let me unequivocally state that American citizens will not tolerate policies such as these that undermine our values and endanger our safety.”  Brimmer proclaimed.

“We understand that America is part of the global community, and we will raise our voices with Congress, with the White House, with the media and in our communities to continue to adhere to the principles that have always made us strongest.” Brimmer urges American citizens to take action against the unjust immigration ban.

Several members of the Fontbonne community do not view this change to be negative.

“I feel the temporary ban can’t hurt. No one is trying to permanently get rid of anyone, and especially not based on religion, as the media would like you to believe.  I think we have a problem that needs to get straightened out, and I believe that when we do get it straightened out, we will open our doors up to everyone again.” Junior, Nick Kenny explained.

In a time of disarray, international students should know that they are not alone, but accepted, appreciated, and needed within the Fontbonne community.

(Found in a neighborhood in Shrewsbury, Missouri. Photo credits: Osama Alharthy)

Brittany Hanewinkel is the Web Editor and a contributor to Fontbonne University’s Griffin Roar.