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SRJC students possibly affected by President Trump’s travel ban

”I would imagine so,” says dean of admissions and records

Simon Isaksson

Simon Isaksson

Simon Isaksson, Co-News Editor

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Confusion remains high after President Donald Trump issued an executive order Jan. 27 banning travel into the United States for citizens of seven countries for at least 90 days.

According to the Trump administration, the travel ban is needed to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted into the United States.” In his executive order, Trump referred to the 9/11 attacks, pointing out that all the hijackers were foreign nationals. However, none of the 9/11 terrorists were from the countries singled out by Trump’s travel ban: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The executive order has been heavily criticized both home and abroad. Many people call the travel ban a “Muslim ban” because all the affected countries have a Muslim-majority population.

On Feb. 3, a U.S. District court in Seattle halted certain provisions of the executive order because it is “contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States,” but Trump insists it will soon be reinstated. If so, hundreds of millions of people will be affected, many of whom live or have lived in the United States or have family and friends living in the United States. Trump’s administration has appealed the U.S. District court decision, and arguments are being heard Feb. 7 at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump has stated he will take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Freyja Pereira, dean of admissions, records and enrollment development at Santa Rosa Junior College, said she believes people at SRJC might be directly or indirectly affected by the travel ban.

“Based on how many students we have here on this school, I would imagine that we have students who are affected by this in some way,” she said.

According to KC Greaney, director of the office of institutional research at SRJC, there is no data in the student information system about what countries non-U.S. citizens are from, but of the 25,831 students enrolled last semester, around 13 percent were non-citizens.

Sarah Hopkins, director of human resources, said there is also no such information collected or maintained by human resources for faculty or staff.

“We only verify that our employees have the legal right to work in the United States when they are hired, as required by law,” Hopkins said.

The only non-citizens at SRJC with their country-of-origin recorded are the around 215 students currently enrolled in SRJC’s international student program. These are people from all over the world, admitted at SRJC with a formal non-immigrant student visa issued by the U.S. Department of State. While there have been international students in the past from countries affected by the travel ban, there are none enrolled this semester, according to Kim Hunt, international student advisor.

“We are lucky. However, some other colleges around here have international students that are directly affected, and they are struggling right now,” Hunt said.

Whether SRJC international students will be affected by the travel ban in the future remains to be seen.

“It is too soon to make any definitive statement. Right now we are just trying to keep up with what is going on,” Hunt said.

Bert Epstein, manager of student health services for mental health programs and a licensed psychologist, said students who might be affected by the travel ban should visit the school’s therapists and seek support among friends and family.

“I am sure this can create great anxiety and stress. Students who might be affected can feel anger and I would recommend them to channel that in healthy ways. Exercising is good, but also talking to people, take part in peaceful protests, writing about your feelings or expressing them through artwork,” Epstein said.

SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong wrote in a statement to the Oak Leaf, “We want to assure our students that they have the support of the college and that we will stand alongside them in an effort to preserve the rights of all students to obtain an education. I would encourage those students who may be directly affected by the recent executive order to reach out to support services on campus and to consider postponing any travel outside the United States until such time as new visa policies are clarified.”

Chong suggests students contact Robert Ethington at Student Affairs and Engagement to know more. International students can contact the director of international programs, Peg Saragina.

Initially, the travel ban also included green card holders in the United States from the seven countries, something the Trump administration later pulled back on. However, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told NBC’s Meet the Press Jan. 29 that green card holders could be subject to further questioning when entering the country.

Trump’s executive order also included a suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days and put an indefinite ban on refugees from war-torn Syria.

Students who wish to share their feelings with the college community can contact the Oak Leaf at [email protected]

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SRJC students possibly affected by President Trump’s travel ban