Dozens of New Mexico State University students and employees are impacted by President Donald Trump’s executive order that closes the door to people trying to enter the United States from seven nations.
And in a Sunday memo to the NMSU community, Chancellor Garrey Carruthers pledged “to monitor this situation and advocate at all levels for a solution that protects all of our students, faculty, and staff.”
After people trying to enter or re-enter the United States were detained, and in some cases, turned back at the nation’s airports over the weekend, Carruthers wrote that the university is advising NMSU community members from the affected nations “not to leave the United States, even if you are a permanent resident of the United States, because it is unclear when you might be able to return.”
While judges have issued temporary injunctions against deporting people from the affected nations who try to enter the United States while the legality of the order is resolved, “that does not necessarily ensure that others traveling abroad will be allowed to return to the U.S., nor whether those who arrived in the U.S. after imposition of the ban will remain in detention,” Carruthers wrote.
Sixty-five students from the affected nations currently attend NMSU, spokesman Justin Bannister said. They include 49 citizens of Iran, nine citizens of Libya, four citizens of Iraq and three citizens of Yemen. All but seven are graduate students. Three are students at Doña Ana Community College.
Two NMSU faculty members with visas and foreign passports are affected, Bannister said. Five other employees — three faculty members and two staff members — are legal permanent residents from nations listed in Trump’s executive order. Bannister didn’t identify the nationalities of the affected employees.
Whether the students and employees have green cards, making them legal permanent residents of the United States, or visas and temporary permission to enter the United States, may matter. Initially, after Trump signed the order on Friday, federal agents were detaining even green-card holders who have lived in the United States for years. At least some were eventually released into the United States.
There’s been no indication that visa holders are getting the same consideration rather than being denied entry into the country. Bannister didn’t have statistics for the affected students but said the vast majority of NMSU’s international students are in the United States on student visas, not green cards.
Over the weekend journalists across the nation told stories about people who were detained and, in some instances, turned back because of Trump’s order. Bannister said the university hasn’t been notified of “any specific issues” related to NMSU students or employees from the affection nations.
Meanwhile, N.M. Attorney General Hector Balderas joined 15 other state attorneys general on Sunday in denouncing Trump’s executive order as “unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful.” They pledged to “work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith.”
“We are confident that the executive order will ultimately be struck down by the courts,” the attorneys general said in a prepared statement. “In the meantime, we are committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created.”
NMSU has created a website to share information about Trump’s order and NMSU’s response with the university community.
NMSU has a large international community — many of them Mexicans, who get discounted tuition but whose nation’s relationship with the United States is currently tumultuous. Asked if NMSU is preparing for the possibility of the ban being extended to other nations, Bannister said, “I’m not sure anyone knows what will happen next with this case, but we will continue to follow events closely and do what we can to support our students and employees.”
Another area of concern at NMSU is whether Trump will repeal former President Barack Obama’s executive order granting temporary legal status to some people brought here illegally as children. Carruthers has said NMSU won’t declare itself a sanctuary for immigrants without legal status or ban federal law enforcement officials from campus — though a group is pushing for NMSU to do just that.
Still, Carruthers, in his memo about Trump’s new executive order, mentioned university community members who have legal status because of the Obama Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
“We are all Aggies, and the support we offer to members of the Aggie family is the same, no matter where a student or an employee was born, including students and employees who are in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program,” Carruthers wrote.