The impact of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily banning individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. is being felt at Cal Poly, which is home to a small number of students from two of the countries included in the ban.
University officials confirmed that three students currently attending the university were from countries listed in the ban. Spokesman Matt Lazier said the university could not release the names of those students, but said that two were from Iran, and another student was from Syria.
The countries included in the ban are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. The order also halts the entry of all refugees into the United States for 120 days and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely.
In a written statement Jan. 31, Cal Poly President Jeffery Armstrong expressed concerns over the impact of the ban on the university’s impacted students, and asked them to reach out for support and resources.
“Like many others who have been speaking out, I am concerned that the ban is in opposition to our country’s values,” Armstrong wrote. “We are a nation of immigrants and indigenous peoples that represents hope, opportunity, liberty, and freedom. It is my fervent desire that the level of peaceful protest and opposition we are seeing nationally and internationally will convince the new president and his administration to reconsider this policy.”
The university was still trying to identify any staff that might be affected by the ban, Armstrong said.
The students at Cal Poly are three of 259 students within the California State University (CSU) system hailing from the seven countries listed in the ban. CSU system spokesperson Toni Molle said the students were usually enrolled under one of two types of visas.
“They are foreign students seeking degrees or exchange students,” Molle said.
While Molle said that the CSU system wasn’t aware of any students who were detained in U.S. airports, a statement from the Cal Poly International Center noted that students leaving the U.S. might not be able to come back and return to their studies.
“At this point in time, please know that you may not be able to return to the U.S. and to Cal Poly should you decide to depart the country,” the statement warned.
President Trump’s executive order sparked protests across the country and drew criticism from advocates and lawmakers, who called for the ban to be lifted. U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) called the ban “reckless” and announced that he’d co-sponsored a bill that would block any federal funds that would be used to implement or enforce the ban.
In a statement released shortly after the bill was filed, Carbajal slammed the ban as a “direct affront to American values.”
“We currently have one of the most stringent immigration systems and vetting processes in the world, and I believe that we can ensure proper screening of immigrants without violating our core American principles,” Carbajal said.
A spokesperson said that one constituent from Carbajal’s district, which includes SLO and Santa Barbara counties, contacted the congressman’s office as a result of being impacted by the ban.
Despite Trump calling for a “total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United Sates” during his presidential campaign, his administration has denied that religion factored into the ban and insisted that the countries listed had been identified by the previous presidential administration as “sources of terror.”
“This is not about religion,” Trump said in a Jan. 29 statement. “This is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”