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Letter to the community on immigration

The following letter from Emerson President Lee Pelton was emailed to the community on Sunday, January 29, 2017:

Dear Emerson Community,

As you know, the president recently issued executive orders that restrict and ban immigrants and refugees from entering the United States. The executive orders indefinitely bar Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspend all refugee admissions for 120 days and block citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, refugees or otherwise, from entering the United States for 90 days: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. (New York Times)

Saturday night and early Sunday morning, several challenges to the executive order were filed independently in four states: New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington. These challenges successfully resulted in rulings that provide for a temporary stay of some of the provisions of the executive orders as well as a significant ruling that the president does not have the authority to ban those entering the country with the legal status to do so, such as green card holders. Today, the White House seems to have reversed its course on at least one aspect of the executive orders, stating that green card holders from the seven banned countries would not be prevented from returning to the United States.

Some of our students who might be affected by the executive orders are in touch with each other and with a quickly growing network of similarly situated students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities. In addition, our international office has reached out to these students, providing support and counsel.

If you are a student, faculty or staff from one of the seven affected countries and are not already in touch with us, please reach out to the Office of International Student Affairs: 120 Boylston Street, 10th Floor617-824-7858; internationalstudentaffairs@emerson.edu.

Emerson College supports diversity in all of its many forms, including political affiliation and beliefs. As a nation committed to equality and social justice, our hope is that, out of the rich diversity of human experience, we can create communities of learning, communities made both beautiful and effective by their pluralism.

I am enormously troubled by efforts to undermine one of the great hallmarks of our nation – a country that historically has opened wide its doors to immigrants as a land of opportunity and endless possibilities – as a place to raise a family and contribute to the common good. We are a nation of immigrants who continue to help build this nation in every aspect of human endeavor. As Mayor Walsh has recently made clear, 28% of the residents of Boston are immigrants. International students study, international faculty teach, and international staff work in our colleges – large and small – certainly at Emerson and across all of the U.S. They devise and conduct important research that saves lives and improves our quality of life. We will not turn our backs on our fellow citizens or those who are visitors to our country.

Fear and ignorance are the precursors of bigotry and xenophobia. On the other hand, our colleges and universities stand for fact-based and data-driven responses to solve problems and improve our lives.

To our international community of students, faculty, staff, and their families and many friends, I pledge the College’s unwavering support and undivided attention during these unsettling times.

Sincerely,

Lee Pelton