Students Respond to Trump’s Controversial Order

Angel Zheng

A week after his inauguration, President Trump passed an executive order enforcing the temporary ban of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Iraq, intending to promote security. Although he proclaims the act would protect United States citizens from terrorists, many believe the executive order goes against the values the U.S. was found on—that it would be a place for immigrants and refugees.

The message behind Trump’s new immigration policy impacts a wide range of students, namely international ones. Lisa Harpster, English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, recognizes the importance of the exposure to different cultures as she hopes to provide support for her students. “Until people meet and interact with the rest of the world,” she explained, “we don’t know, we can’t learn, we remain closed… unable to gain an outside glimpse.” Working with international students opened up her eyes to corners of the world, reminding her of the diverse threads that weaved the country.

Depending on their country of origin, students have been affected in various ways. Harpster witnessed tears, fear, hesitation, and questions from her students such as “Why don’t people think I’m a good person?” “Why don’t people want me here?” and “Do we have to pack up and sell all of our stuff when we go back to my country to visit in case we won’t be allowed back in?” The sentiments exemplified by some of her students echo the uncertainty the Muslim community faces.

Senior Sofi Skidgel shared her concern towards those around her, worrying for her friends who are immigrants as well as how they are going to be treated, “especially with the possibility of deportation hanging over their heads.”

“We apologize for what they are experiencing,” Harpster said. “And we, along with millions of other Americans who want them here, are here to listen to them, to wipe their tears, to love and support them.” While the media ensures a basic understanding of the executive decision, she believes it is difficult to “provide a reasonable answer to why these students and their families now live in fear.” However, she will continue to show support, concern, and unconditional love for her students amidst the difficult time.

However, some students disagree with the negative feelings surrounding the ban, which they view as an action to secure the U.S. borders. By temporarily limiting travel in the selected countries, Trump’s executive order could potentially avoid terroristic attacks in America.

Tyler Gulley, junior, stated, “It is to set up the border and get it a little strong before they let people back in the country.”

“For us, securing our own borders would be probably the top priority,” senior Donovan Paley noted. “It is not easy to make this decision, it was never easy.” He also pointed out it was not the first time a president has ordered a ban immigration, referencing Obama’s six months restriction on visa applications for Iraqi refugees. While they support the order, both Gulley and Paley believe their views would change if the ban had been permanent.

Though the ban is created to insure security, other believe it targets the Muslim population. Shreyas Sundar, junior, said, “It’s a cover for avoiding direct segregation in an effort to mediate the dangers of Muslims although Muslims are not inherently violent or terroristic.” He believes the ban goes against the values of American politics but proves Trump will commit to what he claims.

Paley disagrees with the notion. “It’s not attacking them,” he said. “I have friends who live in those areas, and they say [the living condition is] completely terrible.” His friends have also told him that “killing in Iraq is quite common.”

“To me, that’s just terrifying, and I don’t want to live in that society.”

However, Sundar finds the raging chaos in the countries to be more of a reason to not support the executive order. “People seek refuge because of human rights abuses and because of oppressive regimes,” he explained, “and it’s not like they’re going to attack us when the whole reason they come here is to avoid being attacked.” He believes it is unreasonable “to say that the millions seeking refuge are all terroristic because their government is oppressive.”

“It’s not like the people choose to be oppressed. That’s why they turn to us. That’s why the refugee crisis is happening and that’s why we can’t regress a progression to solvency.”

Sophomore Baron Cao agrees, stating, “We should accept the refugees. Afterall, we are a country of immigrants.”

Currently, while the European Union (EU) struggles to accept refugees, the refugee crisis is at its height, and many turned to the United States as a last resort. Sundar believes the ban takes any chance of freedom they had away from them.

In addition, he stated, it promotes an anti-middle eastern sentiment, deterring the notion of equality. As a consequence, anti-American sentiments rises in other countries.

“The message America sends is that they don’t want their people here.”