The University at Buffalo on Sunday advised all of its international students not to travel outside the U.S., including crossing into Canada, until there is further clarification of President Donald J. Trump's executive order Friday limiting entry to this country.
The president’s order suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the New York Times reported.
There are 121 UB students from five of the seven countries named in the order, primarily from Iran, a university spokesman said Sunday. They account for more than one-third of the 320 students in the entire State University of New York system who are from those countries.
There are also 20 UB faculty, researchers, visiting scholars and staff from the seven countries.
UB’s offices of International Student and Scholar Services and Immigration Services are leading efforts to contact and support those at the university affected by the executive order, said John Della Contrada, an associate vice president at UB. Staff will provide guidance and updates to the university on Monday and in the days to follow, he said.
"As you know, there has been considerable confusion at U.S. airports and Ports of Entry this weekend," Ellen A. Dussourd, assistant vice provost and director of International Student and Scholar Services, wrote Sunday in the notice to international students. "We hope that UB students have not been affected, but fear that may not be the case."
"If you are from one of the affected countries, please respond and let us know your situation. If you are outside the U.S., please let us know what your plans are."
Dussourd also asked students to recount their experiences returning to the U.S. and to respond on behalf of friends unable to communicate via email.
"If you are in the U.S., we urge you not to travel outside the U.S. until it is certain that there is no risk in doing so," Dussourd wrote.
Satish K. Tripathi, president of the University of Buffalo, said in a statement issued Saturday night that the university "is a welcoming campus for students, faculty and visitors from across the globe, and is committed to remaining so."
"The university intends to be in contact with each student to offer support and guidance as the spring semester begins next week at UB. In addition, the university will reach out to visiting scholars and permanent residents from the affected countries," Tripathi said in the statement.
He also assured students that University Police "does not and shall not routinely inquire about an individual’s immigration status" and they don't make inquiries into the immigration status of students, faculty, staff or our visitors unless there has been an arrest.
Meanwhile, local Muslims and other citizens met Saturday night at the Islamic Society of the Niagara Frontier in Amherst to discuss "roles, responsibilities and strategies during the Trump administration." Some in the audience, including American citizens, expressed concern that they would be denied re-entry to the U.S. if they left the country temporarily.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz told the crowd he would continue advocating for local Muslims, refugees and any immigrant seeking a better life in the U.S.
"I stand with you," he said during a town hall panel discussion. "I stand with the refugee community. I stand with the rule of law. I took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution."
Sue Tannehill, president of the Network of Religious Communities, said the Trump administration is doing its best to "separate, label and dismiss" those who are opposed to its policies.
"If fear is not knowing, then the opposite of fear is knowledge," she said. "We must continue to educate people."
Rob Goldberg, CEO of the Jewish Foundation of Greater Buffalo, said members of the local Jewish community should recall their immigrant roots and mobilize on behalf of those affected now.
He said the local Jewish community has created a service corps and works with the Red Cross but should cooperate with Muslims and other faiths on these projects.
"We cannot work together until we get to know each other. That's why this moment is so powerful," he said. "If we want to be a caring community we've got to think beyond ourselves going forward."
And Dr. Khalid J. Qazi, founding president and senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of WNY, encouraged audience members to contact elected officials and news outlets to share the stories of those affected by the executive order.
"If you don't do it, someone else will come in and fill the space," he said.