Last Friday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order inappropriately titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Ostensibly, the goal was to limit immigration from countries that the Trump administration deemed high-risk for terrorism in the United States. We, along with millions of other Americans and concerned people around the world, denounce the move as inhumane, devoid of empathy and simply un-American. By closing our doors to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — a group of nations that tens of millions of people call home — Trump is signing into law a message that is as misguided as it is powerful: The United States’ fear of terrorism is stronger than its commitment to humanity. In addition, by suspending the Refugee Admission Program, the Trump administration’s executive order is openly and brashly neglecting the humanitarian ideals that we as a nation should be striving toward. It is our unwavering stance that the United States should utilize its international privilege and influence by accepting the world’s most vulnerable citizens. By condoning the creation of physical and psychological borders, we are only distancing ourselves from the benefits that come with building an internationally diverse community. As long as Donald Trump and his administration continue to abandon these principles that we hold dear, we at Michigan in Color will continue to speak up and uplift the voices of those affected. Advocating for the safety of our fellow human beings is not, and cannot, be reduced to a bipartisan issue. Rather, it is an active choice that we should all be willing to embrace — regardless of political allegiance.
In response to this executive order, the University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel issued a statement outlining their refusal to release the immigration status of its students and other community members. In the statement, the University reaffirmed its commitment to diversity, non-discrimination, privacy and public safety. Notably, the University’s refusal to disclose the immigration status of its students and community members does not violate any existing state or federal laws. While we are encouraged by the its commitment to protecting its students and faculty, we are unnerved that the University’s response was motivated by the desire to “identify, recruit, support and retain academic talent.” We reject the idea that an individual’s worth is solely determined by their ability to contribute to the academic community. We want to remind everyone that those affected by the ban are, first and foremost, human beings — individuals whose rights and civil liberties have been wrongfully denied.
While we recognize that many students have been and will continue to be affected by the legal unfoldings of the Trump administration, we acknowledge that those whose roots lie in the nations affected by the recent executive order may feel particularly isolated. Our platform has always existed as a space for students of color to affirm, acknowledge and express love toward one another, and this mission will only become more salient as we navigate the uncertainties of this new political climate. Writing, along with other forms of art, are particularly potent forms of healing and recognition of our existence, and we invite those who are affected to share their stories. Right now, we must exist together, because our livelihood as people of color relies on building solidarity with one another. Our liberation from oppression has always been connected. We must elevate one another and speak for those who cannot — the invisible, resilient people who have historically been left out of the dominant narrative. We must continue to articulate our experiences, issues, and suffering as people of color. There is power in speaking the unspeakable, and we will continue to amplify our voices and condemn those who try to silence us.