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Speaking out on the executive order

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on immigration on Friday. This order temporarily bans entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and halts all refugee resettlement; it indefinitely bars Syrian refugees. Those affected, including a Stanford student who is a green card holder, were detained at airports or forced to return to their point of origin. Federal judges have blocked the order, and the Department of Homeland Security clarified on Sunday that the immigration ban no longer applies to permanent residents. Nonetheless, a large and uncertain legal battle looms.

We, the Stanford Asian American Graduate Student Association (AAGSA), have generally remained politically neutral, but this executive order is too harmful and too detestable for us to stay silent. We strongly oppose the immigration ban, especially the denial of refugees. Historically, United States immigration policies, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the acceptance of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees, have greatly shaped the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community. We owe our community’s rich diversity to the liberation of immigration laws, with immigrants helping to fuel our nation’s economic and population growth.

Stanford University itself owes much of its success and even its founding to immigrants’ contributions. Currently one-third of its graduate students and 8.8 per cent of its undergraduates are international. Impacted members of the Stanford community may now be prevented from attending conferences, conducting field work, caring for patients or returning home; other prospective members may be forced to decline offers of admission or employment. As Stanford celebrates its 125th anniversary, the University should remember that Leland Stanford financed its founding using wealth accumulated from the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, built with thousands of Chinese migrant laborers. Yet Stanford himself was not a generous advocate for the workers he relied on, saying, “The presence of numbers of that degraded and distinct people would exercise a deleterious effect upon the superior race.” Echoes of this discriminatory rhetoric can be heard in Trump’s immigration ban and proposed prioritization of Christian refugees over Muslims. Today, as we remember the birthday of Fred Korematsu, who fought a legal battle against the internment of Japanese Americans (itself the product of an executive order during WWII), we must be wary of how present-day discussion of a Muslim registry could extend America’s history of xenophobic policies.

A threat to any immigrant is a threat to all immigrants and to their descendants. The story of America, much like the story of Stanford University, includes immigrants from the very beginning. These discriminatory policies and the increasing numbers of hate crimes are an affront to America’s values. We must stand united in opposition. AAGSA serves the entire Asian-American graduate student population at Stanford, including Muslims. We will continue to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment, and we call on the university to lead and act in defense of its members and its values. No hate. No fear. Immigrants are welcome here.

— Andrew L. Chang, James J. Yan and Vivian Yan on behalf of the Stanford Asian American Graduate Student Association

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