President Turner responds to Faculty Senate denunciation of immigration ban

On Feb. 6, President R. Gerald Turner responded to the Faculty Senate’s recent condemnation of Trump’s executive order relating to immigration.

President Turner’s response to Faculty Senate provided an update on how the order could affect SMU. Although a stay of the order has been issued by a federal court, the Department of Justice is appealing the stay.

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Turner said 49 graduate and undergraduate students from the seven affected countries have been advised not to leave the country, or to consult an immigration attorney if necessary.

Last week, the affected students met with immigration counsel conducted by the Office of Legal Affairs, he said.

“SMU is a global community, with an international enrollment of more than 1,700 students of many races, religions, and ethnicities representing more than 90 countries,” said Turner in his statement.

“SMU’s research, service, professional, and international programs support learning around the world and bring the world to our campus. Therefore, it is in the best interest of both SMU and Dallas to have a vibrant international community.”

Turner also announced that SMU is a signatory of a letter sent to new Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly by the American Council on Education expressing concern of the executive order’s effects. SMU is joined by other Texas schools such as A&M and University of Texas.

In addition to providing legal counsel and publicly expressing the school’s concerns, SMU will continue to protect the data of these students under current law, Turner said.

However, “due to past and ongoing requirements for both immigration status and scholarship opportunities, much information is already available in federal databases on both international students and those who are American citizens,” according to Turner.

“Data not already available, however, is protected under long-existing privacy laws requiring a court order before data can be released without students’ consent,” he said.

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After President Trump banned entry to the U.S. by travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen on Jan. 27, Faculty Senate released a statement denouncing the travel ban.

“The Faculty Senate of SMU condemns the Executive Order of January 27, 2017 as antithetical to the values of Southern Methodist University for unreasonably restricting entry to the United States based on national origin and religion; and be it further that, unless legally compelled to do otherwise, SMU should respect the privacy of its faculty, staff, and students by not sharing their immigration status,” said the statement released by Dr. Jeanne Stevenson, President of the Faculty Senate.

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