Dear Members of the Campus Community,
As we are sure many of you are aware, President Trump issued an executive order on Friday that bans entry into the United States for individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The reaction from many of our country’s leaders, world leaders, and the general public has been swift and strong in its condemnation of this order. It appears that legal challenges and responses will play out over the next few days as calls continue for a halt to this action until a more thoughtful approach can be pursued. However, it is clear that this action has caused many within our own campus community to feel concern, fear and deep uncertainty about how these actions will affect them.
Let us be clear: We reject, in the strongest terms, action that stereotypes or discriminates on the basis of religion, nationality, race, gender, or any other personal characteristic or identity. We firmly believe that we are all enriched by relationships that bridge cultures and worldviews and that our community is stronger when we are bound by the principles of mutual respect, acceptance and inclusivity.
The free flow of students and scholars across borders is essential to the scholarly activity of our university, and international engagement remains an integral component of our mission of teaching, research and service. Lehigh is committed to attracting and retaining the best students and scholars from all over the world, and our academic community has grown and thrived as a result.
We have convened a committee of individuals across campus to more closely examine this order and the potential impact on our community, our academic activity and on our research efforts. We pledge to keep you informed as we work our way through these often-complicated situations.
At this time, we are advising students, faculty and staff who hold a passport from any of the seven countries identified in the executive order to avoid any international travel.
Since early November, we have been taking action to solidify and articulate our position on related matters, including the following:
- We joined with a group of more than 600 universities in signing an open letter urging the current and future leaders of our country to uphold and continue to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
- We have pledged our support for legislation known as the BRIDGE Act (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy). This legislation, which was introduced with bipartisan Congressional support, would allow immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to stay for up to three years without threat of deportation.
- We communicated our concern over possible changes to international student status and visa restrictions to the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation. We are engaged in ongoing discussions with these elected representatives.
We are asking our Office of International Affairs to take the lead on helping us identify and navigate the broad spectrum of emerging immigration-related issues. In the interim, we want to assure any member of our community who may be impacted by the ongoing evolution of these executive orders and legislative efforts that we will continue to do all that we can to support you, including safeguarding private information (including immigration status) within the fullest extent of the law. And, as we have noted in earlier messages to campus, there are on-campus resources available:
- Specific questions regarding their immigration status can be directed to the Office of International Affairs at 610-758-2981 or at global.lehigh.edu.
- Questions regarding information on professionals or organizations that could provide legal representation should be directed to the Office of General Counsel at generalcounsel.lehigh.edu.
- Individuals who need individual guidance, information and support should contact Student Affairs at 610-758-3890 or at studentaffairs.lehigh.edu.
- Graduate students can contact the Office of Graduate Student Life at 610-758-4722 or go to gradlife.web.lehigh.edu.
This is a time of great uncertainty, and we are all feeling a sense of unease regarding a rapidly shifting landscape. It is also a time for our entire community to work together to support those most impacted by this action, and for our Lehigh community to reaffirm our collective intention to continue to build a community that values all its members, including individuals of all religious backgrounds. There should be absolutely no ambiguity regarding the values Lehigh embraces. We share an expectation that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and we will accept nothing less.
John D. Simon President
Patrick V. Farrell Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Patricia A. Johnson Vice President of Finance and Administration