University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel released a statement Saturday morning affirming the University’s commitment to international students and faculty. Despite an executive order signed Friday by President Donald Trump that bans the immigration and travel of people from many Muslim-majority countries, Schlissel said the University will not release the immigration status information of its students.
“The university complies with federal requirements associated with managing its international programs,” Schlissel wrote in his statement. “Otherwise, the university does not share sensitive information like immigration status.”
The statement emphasized the University’s obligation and Schlissel’s personal commitment to the University’s international community. According to the statement, the University has been admitting foreign students since the late 1840s.
“Fostering an environment that promotes education and research at the highest levels is among my most important responsibilities as the University of Michigan’s president,” Schlissel wrote. “The leadership of the university is committed to protecting the rights and opportunities currently available to all members of our academic community, and to do whatever is possible within the law to continue to identify, recruit, support and retain academic talent, at all levels, from around the world.
According to an enrollment summary from the Office of the Registrar, foreign students now make up a major and integral part of the student body. As of the fall 2016 semester, 6,764 students at the University were classified as “non-resident alien.”
While Schlissel wrote that the University is still “working to understand the implications on our community of the ‘extreme vetting’ executive order blocking immigration from certain countries,” he confirmed that admissions policies do not require students to release their immigration status, and that campus police do not ask questions regarding immigration and citizenship while performing their duties.
Trump’s immigration and travel ban was met with opposition on campus. The new policy was announced on Friday, and by Saturday afternoon, more than 1,400 University students, staff and faculty had signed a petition urging Schlissel to ensure protection from deportation to any students under the cover of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
DACA is an immigration policy signed by former President Barack Obama in 2012 that allows undocumented immigrants who had entered the country before the age of 16 to have renewable legal residency status. Both City Council and the University's Central Student Government passed resolutions to support DACA individuals earlier this month.
“We are grateful for the forceful appeals the University has issued in support of the values of diversity, equity and inclusion,” the petition reads. “We urge you to go further now and to use your voice, in concert with your peers at other public universities, to call for formal guarantees that all students covered by DACA will continue to be protected from deportation or threats of deportation, beyond the expiration date of their current status.”
Schlissel responded to the petition in the same statement, saying the University has created a working group to look at different way to understand and support the international campus community, and that the University also supports the Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act, which allows those who came to the country as children to stay for another three years without fear of being deported.
A different official statement from the University’s Office of Public Affairs reaffirmed Schlissel’s words. It stressed that the University is a strong proponent of both DACA and BRIDGE, and included information on how to support BRIDGE through the University.
“We will continue to work with higher education institutions and colleagues across the country to support our students and affected community members,” the Office of Public Affairs wrote.