Over the weekend, a great many individuals across the country and in our UC Davis community experienced considerable confusion and consternation as President Trump’s executive order banning individuals from certain countries from entering or returning to the United States went suddenly into effect. Just as quickly, many Americans voiced their concerns and got down to the business of helping those who were most directly affected. In this connection, let me say that I could not be more proud of the students and attorneys from our Immigration Law Clinic who rushed to the San Francisco International Airport to help families whose members had been detained.
It appears that some of those who were detained have been released, but we are far from having the clarity on our current situation that faculty, students, scholars, and others deserve, and that a university with international collaborators and partnerships of every sort must have to operate.
I am particularly concerned about the denial of free passage to those with valid visas. This situation touches us closely. Our UC Davis community includes at least 53 students and 23 scholars from Iran; four students and one scholar from Iraq; and three students from Libya. We also have many students and scholars from other countries with large Muslim populations. No matter where our community members come from or what religion they practice, UC Davis—in keeping with our country’s founding vision—welcomes and extends its respect to them. Their different values, backgrounds, and perspectives all contribute to our global understanding. All are valued as members of our community.
My fellow campus administrators are reaching out to students and scholars affected by the executive order and offering support. I encourage you to be mindful of all those among us who are fearful for themselves, their family members, or friends. We must, as a daily practice, be compassionate and supportive, but more than ever at times like this.
Amid the welter of reports and sometimes confusing or conflicting information, it is important that University of California, UC Davis, and the City of Davis keep our communities informed and affirm our staunch support for those affected. On Saturday, January 28, the UC Office of the President issued initial guidance on the executive order. Immediately following, I also issued a statement. On Sunday, the UC released a joint statement from the President and all 10 Chancellors. Finally, today, the city Mayor Robb Davis and I released a message.
If you are a student needing emotional support for these or any other concerns, I encourage you to visit walk- in counseling services in the Student Health and Wellness Center. Students can speak with an advice nurse by calling 530-752-2349. We have other resources, starting with our Services for International Students and Scholars, that you can reach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-752-0864.
In addition, let me remind you that UC released principles of support last November to protect the privacy and civil rights of undocumented members of our community. Undocumented students or students with DACA status may contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services or the AB 540 and Undocumented Student Center at UC Davis.
I join with the UC President, UC Chancellors, and leaders of other higher education institutions in voicing my commitment to supporting the students and scholars who contribute in profound ways to the rich fabric of ideas that helps our country prosper. I will do all I can, in partnership with UC, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, to be a strong voice for our community.
Ralph J. Hexter