Students react to order, Tech administration

By GARRETT NEESE

Special to the Journal

HOUGHTON — The executive order banning travel to the U.S. from citizens of seven countries puts stress on international students and their families, and doesn’t make the country safer, Michigan Technological University international students said. 

Numerous students attended Wednesday’s Tech Senate meeting, at which the senate passed a resolution asking the university to lobby against the executive order. 

A Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, said the Senate vote showed support for the concerns of international students.

“We are pleased that almost all of the Senate members really understand how we feel,” he said. “We came here just to express our concerns, and we appreciate their support.”

He said he understands some of the constraints the university may be working under.

People who unsuccessfully asked for a sentence asking for a stronger administration response at the Senate meeting cited issues such as the conservatism of the surrounding area and Tech’s board. 

“Considering this condition, I feel they did their best to address this issue, and can sympathize with the students who have this concern about their future, about their plan to study here,” he said. I really appreciate their help and also their sympathy.”

A Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering, said Michigan Tech’s administration should have made a stronger response like the University of Michigan’s. The UM response included a pledge not to release immigration status, or partnering with other agencies to enforce federal immigration law, until required by law. 

“They made a really strong statement, and I have a lot of friends there, and I feel they feel more protected than I do by my school,” he said. “…They say it a lot – ‘We’re going to support you, don’t worry, it’s going to be over’ – but what are you doing to support us? That’s my question, always.”

He said the order was “emotional and shocking” for him. His parents had planned to visit this summer, the first time he would have been able to see them in three years. That separation will negatively impact the quality of work he’s able to do as an instructor and student, he said. The uncertainty is forcing people to give up family visits, as well as academic connections they could make at international conferences.

“We are treated as a potential danger,” he said. “That’s a very bad thing that makes us upset. We don’t have any record of attack or something wrong that is done by these countries, so i completely believe this is not a logical way to prepare the safety of the people of the United States.”

She was especially upset about a Ph.D. student whose mother was detained in the U.S. upon her flight landing after the order, then sent back. Her mother has visited the U.S. twice. Even a successful flight leaves her mother, who speaks little English, exhausted and stressed. 

“I cannot imagine a mother who’s escorted back,” she said. “That’s pure torture. The person who’s done that to her won’t go to heaven. I just don’t that’s cruel. She’s a mother. She’s a teacher. She’s done nothing wrong. She had a visa. Illegal immigrants are one thing, but not letting a mother in who had waited on a valid visa for a year is something else.”