UPDATED: Killeen says UI working to protect international students, faculty

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UPDATED AT 11:10 A.M.

By Julie Wurth and Carol Vorel

URBANA — University of Illinois President Tim Killeen is reassuring international students and faculty that the school is working to protect them in light of President Donald Trump’s executive order limiting immigration.

In a mass email Monday morning to students, faculty and staff, Killeen strongly recommended that students and scholars who might be affected by Trump’s order delay travel outside the U.S. until a fuller assessment is made and legal challenges are resolved.

More than 300 people on the UI’s three campuses are potentially affected, including international students, postdoctoral researchers, visiting scholars and faculty members, Killeen said Monday.

They are legal permanent residents, students or scholars here on educational visas, or those holding dual citizenship with the seven countries on the list (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria and Yemen). At the Urbana campus, the largest number is from Iran.

Killeen said UI officials worked throughout the weekend with international offices at each campus to ensure they were in contact with all students and scholars who might be affected.

“We’re happy to report that all of them are aware of the situation and are safe,” Killeen told The News-Gazette this morning.

Some faculty travel plans have been “significantly disrupted,” said Executive Vice President Barb Wilson.

“We don’t know of anybody who’s stranded right now or can’t get back to the U.S.,” Wilson said, but some faculty have had to cancel plans to attend conferences or present their research.

“There is a lot of concern and anxiety and consternation in our faculty and student body,” Killeen said.

Of particular concern is the uncertainty about whether the order covers those with green cards, who are legal U.S. residents.

Seven federal judges issued stays on parts of the executive order over the weekend after some legal residents returning to the U.S. were detained at airports, and the Trump administration has tried to clarify it.

“There’s been some mixed messages about that,” Killeen said.

Killeen’s mass mail said the UI is greatly concerned about the negative consequences for members of the university community and their families.

“We’re urging that the order be reconsidered as quickly as possible,” he said.

“We as well as everybody else want to keep our country safe and want to proceed accordingly,” Killeen said. But “these actions speak to the heart and soul of what the University of Illinois system is, as an open educator, globally engaged, and of course committed to welcome all members of the international scholarly community that gets admitted … regardless of faith and ancestry.”

Killeen said university officials are monitoring events closely and working with other universities, national organizations, legal counsel and government officials to protect the UI’s international faculty, visiting scholars and students and ensure they’re aware of the resources available.

They also plan to reach out to the Illlinois congressional delegation to convey the disruption the policy could cause for UI international scholars and their families.

Killeen, who was born in Wales, said the issue is personal to him as a former green-card holder and now naturalized U.S. citizen.

“The U.S. has been such a wonderful country and generous to me personally. I am an immigrant, as is (UI Chicago) Chancellor Michael Amiridis. We feel on a personal basis that the strength of the U.S. is driven strongly by immigration over the decades,” he said.

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UPDATED: Killeen says UI working to protect international students, faculty

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