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Ohio State promises to protect students’ immigration status

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University President Michael Drake speaks to a crowd gathered at Drinko Hall on Jan. 19. Credit: Matt Dorsey | Lantern Reporter

As tensions rise surrounding immigration, legal and illegal, University President Michael Drake issued a statement Sunday night saying Ohio State would protect students’ immigration status, unless required by law to turn it over.

We are committed to protecting the information of all of our students, regardless of immigration status,” the statement reads. “The university’s established and consistently applied policies hold that we do not release personal data to third parties except as required by law. We admit students without regard to race, religion, national origin or immigration status, and undocumented students are entitled to all of the rights and privileges of other students at Ohio State.”

Recent executive orders from President Donald Trump, who ran on an anti-immigration platform, have temporarily suspended immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, temporarily suspended the U.S.’s refugee program and ordered a wall built on the Mexican border. They have also given more powers to immigration officers in regards to enforcing deportation laws against undocumented immigrants. In some instances, permanent residents — those holding green cards and legally allowed to live and work in the U.S. — from the seven banned countries have also been affected, facing deportation and detainment at airports as a result of one of the orders.

An OSU doctoral candidate drove to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Saturday to pick up his wife, who is from Iran. Instead he found she was detained by Customs and Border Protection. At first expected to be deported to Iran, she was later released.

Universities across the country have been making similar statements to OSU’s regarding their students’ immigration statuses over the past few days, as they — along with immigration lawyers, federal agencies, judges and the White House — try to hash out the meaning, limitations and legality of the orders.

“Ohio State remains engaged on this important issue with elected officials and national higher education organizations,” Drake’s statement goes on to say. “While we acknowledge the importance of appropriate visa standards, we are very concerned about the broad implications of (Friday’s) executive order.”

OSU is also cautioning that students affected by Friday’s order — which bars citizens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from traveling to the U.S. for 90 days — avoid traveling outside the U.S. The order recommends the Office of International Affairs, Counseling and Consultation Service, and the Student Advocacy Center for students seeking more resources.

“I want to affirm the university’s unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion and the value that members of the international community continue to bring to our pursuit and sharing of knowledge,” Drake said. “We will honor our obligation to create an environment that inspires discovery and knowledge, values and celebrates diverse opinions and is welcoming to all — now and for generations to follow.”

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