At least 90 campus students and their dependents, along with approximately 20 faculty and staff members, will be affected by the Trump administration’s latest travel restrictions, according to Ivor Emmanuel, director of the UC Berkeley International Office.
The White House declared the enhancement of “vetting capabilities” Sunday, restricting the issuing of immigrant and nonimmigrant visas for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The ban will take effect Oct. 18.
Emmanuel described the impact of the order on the campus as “rather complex” because of the different provisions for each country included in the travel ban. Iranian students on F1, J1 and M1 visas, for example, are exempted from the order but may be subject to additional screening. Emmanuel noted that the campus’s current priority is “communicating directly” with impacted individuals and campus staff members who work with these individuals in order to provide them with the necessary details to make informed travel plans.
Mahira Aly, president of the campus’s International Students Association, noted in an email that such executive orders create a “very worrisome atmosphere” among the international student community at UC Berkeley.
“These executive orders are being released very spontaneously and the scare that we might wake up one morning to discover we wouldn’t be allowed to come back to the United States after going home for the holidays, for example, is very real,” Aly said in her email.
Trump’s two former travel bans suspended immigration from some of the currently affected countries but also included Iraq, Sudan and Somalia. North Korea and Venezuela constitute the newest additions to the immigration policy. Contrary to the 90-day suspension of immigration from countries included in the previous ban, the new travel ban places indefinite limitations on entry into the United States for citizens of the affected countries.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, said that despite the inclusion of North Korea and Venezuela — two non-Muslim majority countries — in the new ban, the ban raises legal concerns similar to those raised by the previous two. According to Chemerinsky, there is “no linkage” between the countries affected by the restrictions and terrorist activities in the United States.
“It is likely unconstitutional for the same reasons,” Chemerinsky said. “(It’s) discrimination based on national origin.”
The University of California has also asserted its opposition to the new travel restrictions affecting university students and staff. UC spokesperson Stephanie Beechem said in an email that the new legislation is “contrary to the values” of the university, adding that the university will remain committed to supporting those who are impacted by the restrictions.
According to Iranian refugee and local immigration attorney Hamid Panah, concerned clients have already reached out to his Berkeley office. Some have been “waiting for more than a decade” to reunite with their loved ones and are now worried that the process will be shut down, Panah said.
“It is through difficult times like this that we are thankful to have a tight knit community of international students,” Aly said in her email.