Trump executive order on immigration shakes Berkeley community

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Pamela Larson/Staff

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Update 1/29/2017: This article has been updated to reflect additional information from the San Francisco International Airport. 

Update 5/21/2018: A portion of this article has been retracted because of personal safety concerns. 

SAN FRANCISCO — The UC Office of the President is recommending that members of the UC community from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen do not exit the United States in light of President Donald Trump’s recent executive order restricting entry into the country.

Trump issued the order Friday, which indefinitely suspends Syrian immigrants’ entry into the United States and halts entry of individuals from the other six countries for 90 days. A federal judge, however, ordered a temporary stay on the ban Saturday evening.

The UC statement advised that students, staff or faculty from these countries do not leave the United States, even if they hold visas or are lawful permanent residents.  

Individuals originally from these countries with immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, as well as those with green cards, are being denied entry into the United States.

“We will continue to monitor and analyze the impact of the executive order and will issue additional guidance as soon as possible,” the UC statement said.

The stay, granted by Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, approves ACLU’s request to allow individuals who are lawfully authorized to enter the country.

UC Berkeley spokespeople were not immediately available for comment on whether the executive order will affect any UC Berkeley students who are abroad this semester. Visa and green card holders from these countries who are abroad are encouraged to contact the Berkeley International Office.

The office sent an email to international students Saturday evening informing them of the impact of Trump’s executive order and advising all international students to “(minimize) international travel due to the changing nature of the new administration’s policies on visas and U.S. entry.”

The office also warned that the executive order calls for a review of the United States’ visa issuance process for all countries. Because these revisions are ongoing, the office warned that other countries may be added to or removed from the suspension list.

Iranian international student Omid Shams Solari, who is a doctoral candidate in statistics, said the executive order has changed his entire perspective on his future.

“I spent most of my 20s in this country. I love California, and I love Berkeley,” Shams Solari said, adding that he thinks of Berkeley as his second home.

Hundreds of people from Berkeley and many other local communities gathered at the San Francisco Airport about 3 p.m. Saturday to protest Trump’s executive order and show support for those affected by the new bans.

Sumayyah Din, a UC Berkeley senior and former ASUC senator representing the Middle Eastern Muslim Sikh and South Asian Coalition, participated in the protest because of violence against the Muslim community living in the United States, adding that it has increased since Trump’s election. She has family in Afghanistan who are planning to immigrate to the United States in the coming weeks.

“Afghanistan is not on the ban list, but at this point, anything can happen,” Din said. “I feel powerless and helpless, for the sake of all refugees and all those seeking a better life only to find struggle.”

Many SFO protesters drew parallels between the new executive orders and the policies from Nazi-era Germany by wearing Star of David pins with the word “Muslim” and crescent moons drawn on them.

According to San Francisco International Airport spokesperson Doug Yakel, five individuals were detained in total, including a Sudanese graduate student who attends Stanford University, and all were released by Sunday afternoon. The detainees also included an elderly Iranian couple and an Iranian man, according to Nina Farnia from the National Lawyers Guild who was at the protest.

Jake Grumbach, a fifth-year UC Berkeley political science doctoral candidate who attended the protest, said that because it is unlikely that Congress and the Senate will defy Trump, it is up to the people to protest. He called the situation “a constitutional and moral crisis.”

“Political science, when it’s studied in the U.S., is very hopeful about American institutions. It was a big surprise to American scholars that Trump has come forward,” Grumbach said. Scholars of American politics, like me, need to wake up and realize we’re in uncharted waters. The way we teach about American politics needs to fundamentally shift.”

Mary Shaughnessy, a counselor at Alameda Community College and an El Cerrito resident, was also one of many who attended the SFO protest. She said one of her students is in Yemen getting dental work and was supposed to arrive Monday but still has not returned.

“I could not sit at home today,” Shaughnessy said, crying. “It’s time to take to the streets. It’s time to be loud. It’s time to say no.”

California District 11 State Sen. Scott Wiener attended the protest as well, emphasizing the need to oppose the executive order. He said he was there to put “enormous pressure” on SFO.

“Now’s the time to stand up to the evil,” Wiener said. The immigrant community and diversity are our strengths, and we have to get rid of this government.”

Berkeley College Republicans treasurer David Craig, who was not at the protest, said he was unaware of the details of Trump’s executive order and could not speak to its impact on UC Berkeley students.

He said, however, that people have “the perfect right” to protest and that he supported them voicing their opinions, as long as they remained peaceful.

“America has a great tradition of nonviolent protests,” Craig said. “It’s great that we have the opportunity to voice ourselves on the public forum.”

ASUC President Will Morrow expressed his horror at the ban and emphasized his support for UC Berkeley students affected by Trump’s new immigration policy. He also referred students to the Undocumented Students Program, which issued a fact sheet with resources to assist students affected by the executive order.

“This ban is not only a threat to (our university) as an institution of global learning — it is a threat to the basic humanity of many of our students,” Morrow said. “I am committed to making sure that students who are impacted by these executive orders have their concerns brought up to administration (and) to folks at the office of the president.”

Check back for updates.

Contact The Daily Californian News Staff at [email protected].