Among the flurry of executive orders issued in the opening weeks of Donald Trump W’68’s presidential administration, the most controversial was the January 27 order that barred foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen— from entering the United State for 90 days, suspended the admission of refugees from all countries for 120 days, and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Opposition to the order—which sparked multiple legal challenges that remained unsettled as the Gazette went to press—was particularly marked in the higher-education community. At Penn, the immigration order spurred President Amy Gutmann to do something she had refrained from doing for the duration of the presidential campaign and right through Mr. Trump’s inauguration: issue a public statement criticizing the president by name.
President Trump’s recent Executive Order is injurious to our work and inimical to our values. The damage already done to the lawful freedoms and opportunities of our students and colleagues, here and around the world, is undeniable and indefensible. This Order will weaken the promise of educational opportunity, intellectual discovery, and global engagement that so distinguishes American universities.
I am the daughter of a Jewish immigrant who fled Nazi Germany. My grandfather was an immigrant. My son-in-law is an immigrant. My family’s story is part of a proud and productive American story, as is all of yours.
Immigration strengthens the fabric of this nation and our University. Immigrants spark innovation, launch new businesses, and enrich our culture and arts. They are a precious national resource and invaluable to Penn.
We must stand together, united in our support of beloved colleagues, students, friends, and families who, no matter where they come from or how they worship, have contributed so much to our University community and to this country.
We are heirs to Penn’s heritage as the nation’s first secular university, where all religions are welcome. We are heirs to the genius and humanity of Ben Franklin.
As such, we must not and will not remain silent.
We stand for open-hearted compassion and open-minded opportunity. We will remain unyielding in our allegiance to our fundamental principles and to each other. Penn will not bend.
Staff across the University are right now assisting our affected community members with legal counsel and other resources.
In addition to those efforts, we will do everything in our power, speak to every friend and ally, and leave no stone unturned in our efforts to urge President Trump to change course and rectify the horrible damage this Order has caused.