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TESOL Statement on Second Immigration Executive Order

by David Cutler | 03/10/2017
The new immigration executive order signed by the President of the United States of America on 6 March 2017 seeks to roll back some of the provisions from the previous travel ban issued 27 January, while still restricting travel to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries. TESOL International Association acknowledges the responsibility of every country to promote the safety of its citizens and set policies that regulate lawful entry into the country. As put forth in the Association’s statement of 31 January 2017, however, we believe that policies which make blanket assumptions about the security risk of individuals based on their nationality, religion, or race are wrong and are ultimately detrimental to the principles of free and democratic societies.
 
While the executive order does not apply to those who have already received visas for travel, and exempts permanent residents and dual-nationals traveling on a visa from another country, it still takes a nationality-based and religion-based approach to national security. By suspending decisions for US refugee status for 120 days and denying visas to entire nationalities, the executive order casts aside the expertise of the diplomatic community and a long history of work to develop reliable processes for assessing national security risks. 

The collective impact of the January and March executive orders extends far beyond the individuals denied entry to the United States. As statements of policy, the executive orders have created a climate of chaos and uncertainty, which compounds a worldwide tendency to characterize all refugees and migrants as security threats. There are now many students worldwide who continually worry about shifting US policies that will ultimately exclude them. They fear discrimination and overt racism if they decide to pursue educational opportunities in another country. Furthermore, there are members of TESOL International Association who will not be allowed to participate in our annual Convention because of the passport they possess, and there are many more who worry about what will happen when they travel. It’s evident that when governments make generalizations about nations, races and religions, they license more extreme generalizations--and actions--imbued with hate.

TESOL International Association continues to strongly oppose punitive immigration reform measures in any country that unfairly target individuals of a specific nationality, especially when that nationality is synonymous with a religion or race. TESOL calls on leaders in the United States and around the world to ensure the safety and educational opportunities of refugees, to develop immigration policies that recognize desire and ability to contribute to a new society, and to clearly denounce all racial and religious stereotyping.