With much of the nation reeling after President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, University President Peter Salovey addressed the new immigration rules in an email on Sunday evening, pledging Yale’s support to students and faculty who could be directly affected.
“We are alarmed by this executive order. Together with many others in and beyond the Yale community, we question the motivation underlying it and recognize that it departs from long-standing policies and practices in our country,” Salovey wrote. “All of us are worried for colleagues, friends and family members who may be affected by these and other changes in immigration laws.”
The order, signed Friday afternoon, suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. On Sunday, a top White House official appeared to roll back parts of the order, saying that travelers who hold green cards will not be prevented from entering the country.
Still, the order, which has generated widespread outcry and led to protests at airports across the country, will almost certainly affect students and faculty at Yale. On Saturday, an Iranian anthropology student Mohammad Abdi GRD ’18 tweeted that the order could prevent him from returning to campus after he finishes conducting research overseas.
Another Yale affiliate — Silliman resident and assistant professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Amin Karbasi — is separated from his wife and infant daughter. The two left the country a few weeks ago to visit family in Iran but now do not expect to be allowed to return, Karbasi said.
In his email, Salovey advised students from the seven countries to suspend plans for international travel. And he announced that the Office of International Students and Scholars will hold open meetings for the Yale community on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and Thursday, Feb. 2, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Vice President for Communications Eileen O’Connor told the News that OISS has been in touch with students who may be affected by the order.
“They are reaching out to them, and they are apprising them of all the actions that may be available,” O’Connor said.
That email went out just a few minutes before hundreds of New Haven residents and Yale community members gathered for a candlelight vigil on Cross Campus to express support for immigrants and refugees. Salovey, Provost Ben Polak and other top administrators attended the vigil, although none of them spoke.
“It was a student-led event. We came in solidarity with them,” O’Connor said. “I don’t know that anyone asked them to speak.”
Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway was out of town and could not attend the vigil. But in another communitywide on Sunday, Holloway said he was encouraged to see Yale students supporting each other in such numbers.
The email from Salovey followed a message sent on Saturday night that expressed “concern regarding this situation” and assured the Yale community that administrators were evaluating possible responses. On Sunday, a petition signed by around 250 faculty members called for Salovey to take a stronger stand against Trump’s executive order, which he now appears to have done.
Inderpal Grewal, a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies professor who signed the petition, said she “was so glad to see that he came up with a response very quickly.”
“We needed a fast response at Yale to the situation,” Grewal said. “I appreciate that Peter did that.”
Rachel Treisman contributed reporting.
This story was updated to reflect the number of faculty signees on the petition as of Jan. 30.