In last week’s edition of The Griffin, our Editorial Board published an editorial entitled “Men and women for themselves,” calling into question administration’s silence about President Donald Trump’s executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” This document, which consists of eleven sections, outlines that individuals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia are banned from entering the United States for a 90-day period. On top of that, the order prohibits the United States from allowing individuals fleeing from the war in Syria to enter our borders indefinitely, as well as banning any refugees from entering for four months.
In a unanimous decision, Trump’s travel ban will remain blocked after a Thursday ruling by a federal appeals court. The decision upholds the previous ruling made by federal Judge James Robart. In defense of his ruling, Judge Robart stated that, “I’m…asked to look and determine if the executive order is rationally based. And rationally based, to some extent, means I have to find it grounded in fact instead of fiction.” His ruling, a temporary restraining order usually lasting around 14 days, will provide extra time for other courts to join in the judgement to put together a more permanent solution.
Last week, despite the 21 of the 27 other Jesuits schools in the nation already releasing statements, our administration was still silent. As stated by the Editorial Board previously, we believe that that silence meant only one thing: administration does not care about the people in our community who are affected by the executive order. While Canisius is not home to any students or faculty from the nine nations banned, we are certainly connected to a community in Buffalo that is intertwined with those nations in some way.
Since that editorial was published, President Hurley has sent an email to Canisius students, faculty and staff taking a stance on the issues and encouraging the reader to take action and stand with oppressed and marginalized people.
This email was sent on February 7th, 10 days after Trump signed the executive order. It outlines, again, the importance of signing large group statements instead of releasing personalized, individual ones in the hope to cover up the fact that he only released a statement when individuals on the campus became angry. Furthermore, he included steps that the reader could take in order to move forward with personal action, including volunteering with a refugee service in Buffalo, advocating for the BRIDGE Act, and ways to stand in solidarity to communities in need.
Attached to the email, he included a one page letter which he sent to the new Director of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly. The letter emphasizes the need to welcome individuals to our country to be able to add to the wealth of knowledge, leadership, and talent that those born outside of the United States have to offer. It does this while assuring the director that President Hurley still wants to be maintain a close working relationship that had been established in the past between universities and the Department of Homeland Security.
He states, “We are confident that our nation can craft policies that secure us from those to wish to harm us, while welcoming those who seek to study, conduct research and scholarship, and contribute their knowledge and talents to our country.”
While the letter is a good start, and the group statements are probably effective in some of the ways that President Hurley claims that they are (i.e. “It is these joint statements – and not individual statements – that get the media attention…), there is still more that could have been done.
This paper believes that the letter written to the Director of Homeland Security, while good for showing off to the Canisius community, was a flimsy excuse for taking a stand against a form of violence so harmful to our community. If anything, the letter more focused on the fact that President Hurley wants to maintain a close relationship with the new Director.
Thankfully, President Hurley recovers some of the power he lost with the letter by providing individual resources that students can take advantage of if they feel strongly opposed to the executive order. On this list, he included letting elected representatives know where you stand, tweeting at Donald Trump and the POTUS Twitter page, volunteering your time at Journey’s End or other refugee services, and advocating for legislation that will improve the lives of those who are foreign-born living in the United States.
This paper actively appreciates and applauds President Hurley for releasing a statement and listening to the needs of the campus, but we also want to remind our readers that the fight is not over when it comes to advocating for those that President Trump is oppressing under this executive orders, and others of its kind. As the years go on and more harmful legislation is passed, the Canisius administration needs to remember that it doesn’t have to wait for student outcry to take a stand on a issue; while signing group statements might get media attention, releasing individual statements gains the respect of the Canisius community.