Implications of the US Executive Order on Immigration

The CIE community gathered to discuss the implications of the new immigration order at the Tuesday Dialogue on January 31, 2017. We were fortunate to have Ken Reade, Director of International Student and Scholars Services at the UMass Amherst International Programs Office (IPO) present to provide an overview of the current situation and to answer any questions.


Addressing a packed room of faculty, international and American graduate students, Ken reiterated the university’s commitment to and active support of international students and scholars. The UMass community includes students from 3 out of the 7 countries listed in the president’s recent Executive Order. The order prevents citizens from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and freezes immigration-related adjudication processes—naturalization, OPT applications, visas, etc—for citizens of these countries.


Ken detailed the IPO’s engagement with the large Iranian community on campus, as well as students from Sudan and Syria since the announcement, and ongoing efforts to assist 3 UMass Amherst students who have been unable to return to school due to the new regulations. One of the students had gone home to get married.  


Ken noted that the situation was chaotic, with a lot of misinformation going around. His office is trying to “Get the best information out to you that we can, to make sure it’s factual.”


He reiterated that “You are so welcome here, you will continue to be welcomed here.”


“We are very engaged and active with government agencies and officials,” he said. “We work with colleagues around the country, on other campuses. The IPO is not operating in a vacuum.”


In the meantime, he urged faculty, staff and students to carry on with business as usual, in terms of the admissions process, classes, studies and other work—to move forward in reviewing international applicants, and in planning for personal and professional travel.


“We should be committed to [international applicants, including those from affected countries] and reiterate the fact that UMass will absolutely welcome you,” he said. “I want to keep this as positive as I can… We’re going to do everything we can to get you here.”


Questions and comments from CIE members included implications of the order—what happens after the 90-day period, implications for students from other Muslim-majority countries, students from affected countries who cannot go home for the summer, graduate student assistantships and work authorizations, OPT applications, H-1B visa applications, and U.S. activities and the safety of American citizens abroad.


It was encouraging to see Ken’s calm passion and know that he and others are working hard to support the international student community here at UMass and across the country.


CIE members discussed ideas for responding to the ban, including drafting a statement, finding creative ways for affected students to participate in classes, and reassuring applicants that applications are evaluated based on individual merits. A small group was convened to work on the statement.   


Among CIE students attending were citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, Zimbabwe, and the United States.