The following is a letter sent from Mayor Robb Davis to Congressman John Garamendi; at the end is a joint statement from the mayor and Acting UC Davis Chancellor Ralph Hexter
Thanks for your interest in the challenges the City of Davis and UC Davis are facing in light of President Trump’s executive order restricting entry for citizens from 7, predominantly-Muslim nations. UC Davis has 87 students or scholars from Iran, Iraq and Libya, with unknown numbers of Iranian faculty, family members and workers with permanent residency living in our City.
In addition, the following shows the large numbers of students and scholars from other predominantly Muslim countries currently at UC Davis. While these countries are not covered by the current Executive Order, students and scholars from them are very concerned about their future status and ability to travel home or receive visitors from home.
1. Bangladesh: 14 students, 9 scholars
2. Egypt: 14 students, 7 scholars
3. Indonesia: 147 students, 1 scholar
4. Malaysia: 49 students, 6 scholars
5. Morocco: 4 students, 1 scholar
6. Nigeria: 4 students, 2 scholars
7. Pakistan: 18 students, 14 scholars
8. Turkey: 31 students, 9 scholars
Beyond these numbers we have over 5000 students and scholars at UC Davis, many of whom are actively questioning what future actions by this administration might mean for them. This is an incredibly disorienting time for all our international guests.
Here are some specific cases that illustrate challenges that students and scholars all over the country are facing at this time. These are specific to our community. (Note: as you know, F-1 status is for students at any degree level authorized to study in the US at accredited universities. J-1 can refer either to students or scholars in the US Visitor Exchange Program)
1. A former J-1 scholar from Iran is in the US arranging the move of his wife and son, while awaiting green card processing. He was to have left the US for final interviews and processing but is now uncertain. He has an appointment in UC Davis’ Plant Sciences Department.
2. An Iranian PhD student who was to have started at UC Davis this spring (he was accepted), recently obtained his visa, was to arrive in March, 2017, to start classes April 4. His ability to start then is now in doubt. In addition, his proposed roommate, who is already here from Iran, was counting on him to share expenses. This person, now finds himself in a difficult situation.
3. An Iranian F-2 (spouse of F-1) is concerned about her ability to change to F-1 status to become a student. She has been accepted at UC Davis.
4. An Iranian student applying for a Master’s program in Engineering at UC Davis is asking about whether she should continue her application process.
5. The spouse of an F-1 student (F-2 status) is currently stuck outside the US and unable to be reunited with her family.
6. An Iranian F-1 PhD student, who started in Fall 2016 quarter had invited his father to visit. This student has a sister with two children in the US and she and they are American citizens. The father/grandfather had a visa interview scheduled in Yerevan, Armenia for February 8th so he could come on a tourist visa to visit the student son and daughter and grandchildren. His visa interview has now been canceled. Attached are the pictures of the two grandchildren he will not be able to see. He has not been able to see his daughter for five years.
7. Scholar advisors at UC Davis are being asked by scholars of these countries if it is safe to travel within the USA. The fact that scholars must ask this shows the fear that exists.
8. Departmental staff is questioning whether to admit students or invite scholars from these countries for summer and fall arrivals. There is much confusion.
9. A high profile scholar from one of the countries (his profile might put him at risk) was set to come to UC Davis to do research on responses to humanitarian abuses in his country. Because of the order, UC Davis was not permitted to provide him with documentation necessary to obtain a visa.
These stories were gathered in the past 5 hours WITHIN the City of Davis and the University. We are a small city of 65,000.
The fact that Iranians are the main nationality represented comes as no surprise. UC Davis and the City of Davis are home to many Iranians and have been for a generation at least. The fact that the Trump Administration can point to NO attacks by Iranians on US soil or against US interests makes their exclusion seem particularly arbitrary and cruel to us.
Finally, I wanted to share with you a joint statement from Interim Chancellor Ralph Hexter and me to our campus and community. Thanks for helping us get the word out on the challenges that we are facing in light of the Executive Order.
A message to the community on the immigration executive order:
Our city and university host over 5,000 international students, faculty members and scholars, as well as their families. Many of them come from nations with majority Muslim populations. These are our neighbors, friends and colleagues. They have faces and stories we know well. They contribute in myriad ways to our community and our university. They are part of us. We are deeply concerned by the impact of the recent executive order that restricts the ability of students, faculty, staff and other members of our community from certain countries to return to the United States if they are currently traveling or plan to travel abroad. The threat of the order and the order itself are already having impacts on people in our town and university, on their academic, professional and personal lives.
We understand it is the federal government’s role to maintain the security of the nation’s borders. However, this executive order’s impact on our friends and colleagues is inconsistent with the values of our community. It has created uncertainty and fear that hurts the University of California, Davis, and the city of Davis.
We have long been deeply enriched by students, faculty, scholars and health care professionals from around the world — including the affected countries — coming to study, teach, research and make our lives richer and better. Any effort to make these valuable members of our community feel unwelcome is antithetical to our mission of expanding learning and generating new knowledge. Nothing, however, will cause us to retreat from the shared principles of community we have developed together, and to all of our friends from here and abroad, you have our commitment to welcome you.
Ralph J. Hexter
Mayor, city of Davis