President Donald J. Trump’s executive order to temporarily ban refugees until additional vetting procedures are in place sparked protests in the region and across the country, spurred messages of support to international students and staff at the region’s two largest universities, and brought both condemnation and support among congressional and state lawmakers.
Trump signed an executive order Friday that institutes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, as well as a 120-day suspension of the refugee program. The order also blocks Syrian refugees from coming to the United States indefinitely.
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“America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border,” Trump said in a statement the White House released Sunday.
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban as the media is falsely reporting,” Trump said. “This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”
Ohio Gov John Kasich, who battled Trump in the Republican presidential primary and refused to endorse him prior to the election, called for a “well-thought out and constructed plan” that strengthens the nation’s security.
”The latest executive order is neither,” Kasich said in statement on Twitter on Sunday. “Proper coordination with implementing agencies and our allies was missing. This order should be replaced with a more thoughtful approach consistent with our values.”
State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, supported Trump’s intentions to keep “potential terrorists sneaking into the country.”
“We need to ensure the ban does not affect those who pose no threat to our country and are coming here to seek freedom from tyrannical radical Islamic rule in the Middle East,” he said in a statement.
“… The ban can be done correctly in order to protect Americans from potential terrorists while still living out our values of being the beacon of freedom around the world.”
Impact on campuses
The leaders of Wright State University and the University of Dayton issued statements Sunday expressing support for international students, faculty and staff on their campuses. About 50 people at Wright State and another 45 at the University of Dayton potentially could be impacted by the order, officials said.
In a message to the campus community, WSU President David R. Hopkins wrote it would attempt to identify student, faculty and staff traveling abroad “and, to the best of our ability, ensure their safe return.”
He urged students from the affected countries thinking about traveling overseas to first contact the University Center of International Education.
While highlighting the university’s diversity, he asked the campus to support students and faculty who may be impacted by the order.
”Right now, I worry about what this may mean to our Wright State community,” he said in the statement. “These are our students, faculty, alumni, and their family members. These are our friends.”
In a statement, University of Dayton President Eric F. Spina said: “We treasure our Muslim students, faculty and staff and respect their religious beliefs and freedom to practice their religion. They are a valued part of the rich diversity of our campus community, and we pledge to do all we can now, and in the future, to welcome students of different religious, ethnic or racial backgrounds and respect their dignity.”
Lee Hannah, a WSU assistant professor of political science, said the executive action could be used as propaganda by other countries against the United States.
Vaughn Shannon, a Wright State associate professor of political science who specializes in Middle Eastern politics and terrorism studies, said Sunday the presidential order was “an unfortunate, counterproductive and ineffective way to counter terrorism.”
“This is what I would call a heavy-handed approach that doesn’t take into account that many and most of the people coming from these countries are actually victims of terrorism and war,” he said. “The immigration restrictions are stopping the wrong people and there’s no evidence that it’s targeting or stopping people that we even have to worry about.”
Many of those stopped or detained at airports had been previously vetted by U.S. authorities or had “green cards” permitting them to work in the country, he said. A Trump administration official has reportedly said the order would not apply to green card holders.
U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown objected to the government’s decision to prevent a Cleveland Clinic physician on a Sudanese passport from returning to the United States as part of Trump’s temporary ban.
In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Portman, R-Ohio, said Suha Abushamma, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic since July and who has a work visa, should have been allowed into the country “because she’s been properly vetted” in the past by U.S. officials.
Employing even sharper language, Brown, D-Ohio, said called the decision to block her entry “cruel, foolish and out of step with American values,” adding “turning away doctors here to learn and help people does not make America safer.”
Brown spoke personally with senior officials at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s most prestigious medical institutions.
Abushamma, 26, who lives in the Cleveland suburb of Cleveland Heights, is Muslim and a citizen of Sudan.
She had been in the Middle East for the past three weeks before flying Saturday from Saudi Arabia to John F. Kennedy International in New York City, according to Cleveland.com.
In addition, two other Cleveland Clinic residents who had been on vacation in Iran were detained for a few hours upon their arrival in New York and then released.
Portman told CNN that Trump’s executive order was an “extreme vetting proposal that didn’t get the vetting it should have had.” While acknowledging “there’s not adequate screening, particularly on our visa waiver programs,” he added “we’ve got to do it in a way that is consistent with our values and consistent with our national security.”
Jessica Wehrman of the Washington bureau and staff writers Max Filby, Will Garbe, and Rich Wilson and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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