The President of the United States recently signed an executive order
that implements a 90-day entry ban for individuals traveling from seven majority-Muslim nations, places a 120-day suspension on all refugee programs, and suspends the entry of all Syrian refugees indefinitely. This divisive order stands as the latest manifestation of the heated and xenophobic rhetoric that has undermined the fabric of the United States. This contentious act fails to satisfy its intentions to make the United States a safer nation. The exclusion of travelers, immigrants, and refugees from these Middle Eastern and North African countries only serves to make the United States more vulnerable, unfairly targets immigrants and refugees, and stands in stark contrast to the ideals that the United States was built on, and the values that TESOL International Association upholds.
The immediate effects of this egregious executive action on the nearly 17,000 students studying in the United States who come from the seven targeted nations should not be understated. Students are being denied re-entry to the United States. Universities are asking students from the targeted countries not to apply for the next school year. Thousands of students and faculty members already in the United States are stuck in limbo, unfairly left to ponder their fate.
The United States has long been a global leader in international education and cultural exchange, providing a welcoming environment for students from around the world who come to learn about American culture and language and to build a sense of identity and cultural awareness. This executive order contradicts the very principles these students travel to explore, and instead acts to deny them a safe place to learn and grow, and puts the purpose and economic sustainability of international education programs in peril.
The United States is a nation of immigrants, built on the backs of past generations who desired to achieve the ultimate dream of a life free from fear, persecution, and tyranny. TESOL calls on our leaders in Congress, the White House, and communities across the country to uphold the very notions of liberty that our nation was founded upon, and to allow those who wish to pursue this dream to have the same opportunity as the generations of Americans who came before us.