Message from President Robinson and Provost Connolly About the Executive Order on Immigration

Following is a message sent on 1/30 to the Graduate Center community:

As you know, the White House issued an executive order on Friday that suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days and barred entry for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The legal situation is fluid, but our commitment to our students, faculty and principles is firm.

We share your concerns for the well-being and rights of our immigrant and visa-holding students and faculty, and are working to support our own doctoral student, Saira Rafiee (Political Science), who has unjustly been refused re-entry to the United States.

Once we learned of Saira’s situation, we contacted her and began gathering support and coordinating a response in partnership with the Central Office. We continue to work to facilitate her return to New York, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of all international scholars, students and employees for immigration and visa policies that will sustain their security and success in the United States.

We are also alert to the possibility that others may be affected by the ban. A range of useful information about resources and support is available here, as part of CUNY Citizenship Now!, the free citizenship and immigration service project led by Professor Allan Wernick of Baruch College.

This critical moment affords us the opportunity to re-affirm our values as academics. Like every other institution committed to the advancement and exchange of ideas, the Graduate Center draws its strength from the circulation of knowledge, scholars and students across the globe. The ban runs counter to who we are and what we do. While we work to support Saira and those in our community who may be at risk, rest assured that we will also guarantee academic principles that are consistent with our deepest human values.

Finally, we would like to thank all those who have expressed concern, offered assistance and worked on behalf of those affected by this weekend’s events. While immediate and longer-term realities are yet unknown, our community stands ready to assist in any way that we can. You can find related resources below.

We will continue to keep you updated.
President Chase F. Robinson
Provost Joy Connolly

Resources

  • For those who are detained and trying to enter the United States, or are still abroad and needing guidance, please contact CUNY Citizenship Now! attorney Isabel Bucaram, Esq., by text, phone call or WhatsApp at 646-860-5678. Affected students, faculty and staff abroad can also write directly to citizenshipnowinfo@cuny.edu.
  • For affected students, faculty and staff here in the US, regardless of immigrant status, the best advice remains not to travel abroad if at all possible until we have more clarity about ongoing developments.
  • CUNY is working to develop broader travel guidance that will be issued soon. In the meantime, all members of the community who are citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (including those with dual citizenship of another non-US country) should understand that if you leave the United States, you will not be able to return during the 90-day period, and possibly longer. Citizens of other countries not affected by this ban should expect increased visa delays and be aware that entry rules may change. All non-US nationals should continue to maintain your immigration status. We encourage you to seek advice before making any travel plans. Linda Asaro, Director of the Office of International Students (intstu@gc.cuny.edu), is available to answer questions or provide assistance.
  • For those seeking context or answers to travel-related questions, the CUNY CLEAR (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility) project aims to address the unmet legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian and other communities in New York City. General tips are featured for those who may be affected by national security and counter-terrorism policies and practices.