University President Steven Knapp signed a letter affirming his commitment to students this week in the wake of travel restrictions President Donald Trump placed on immigrants and refugees entering the U.S., according to a University release.
The letter from Washington higher education associations requests a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to ensure the ban does not affect colleges’ history of educating students from around the world. The letter was drafted on behalf of more than 45 higher education associations.
The letter was sent by the American Council on Education and states the signees’ support for national security as well as opportunities for international students and academics to study in the United States. The letter also detailed the benefits of international students at American colleges and pointed out the educational and economic benefits these students bring.
“The roughly one million international students that attend U.S. colleges and universities add to this country’s intellectual and cultural vibrancy, and they also yield an estimated economic impact of $32.8 billion and support 400,000 U.S. jobs, according to recent estimates,” the letter states.
The letter requests that the signees be able to meet with officials at the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that current and future students be able to continue their studies despite the ban.
“We are confident that it is possible to create policies that secure our nation from those who wish to harm us, while also welcoming those who seek to study, conduct research and scholarship, and contribute their knowledge and talents to our nation’s higher education institutions, economy and overall security. And that will be our goal in working with you and your team on this issue,” the letter reads.
Knapp also released a statement Monday saying that international students are vital to the University and shared his concerns about the president’s executive order.
“Whatever its intent may be, the presidential executive order banning citizens of seven countries from entering the United States directly threatens the well-being of students as well as of faculty and staff members who come from the affected countries,” Knapp said in that release.
The GW International Services Office, the Office of General Counsel and the External Relations division have been working to understand exactly how the executive order will affect students, faculty and staff and for how long, according to a University statement.
Nearly 600 GW faculty and staff members also signed a petition affirming their support for students, faculty and staff from the seven Muslim-majority countries listed on the ban.