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A message from Dr. Gitenstein concerning immigration changes

Last week by executive order the federal government suspended all immigration and restricted entry to the United States for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. While I strongly believe in the need to take actions that will protect our citizens and the country, I have deep reservations about the specifics of these particular actions.

Like all institutions of higher education in the United States, The College of New Jersey has been enriched immeasurably by the contributions of students, faculty, and staff from other countries. Indeed, our national heritage is built on welcoming and embracing the vitality and difference that comes from these kinds of contributions—whether these individuals are visitors to our country or they become our fellow citizens.

In the face of these concerns, I strongly endorse the recent statement made by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) which requests the administration to reconsider this Executive Order.

TCNJ will continue to provide support and protection for our students, faculty and staff as allowed by law. Just to clarify, information about the national origin or immigration status of a TCNJ student or employee is private and will not be disclosed without the consent of the individual except as required by law, such as pursuant to a valid subpoena or court order. In the face of these recent actions, we advise any TCNJ students or employees who are from those countries specifically identified in the Executive Order to avoid foreign travel until they can receive legal advice on how this recent change may impact them.

In the fall, I along with more than 600 other presidents of institutions of higher education signed a statement urging the federal government to consider the special circumstance of young people who were “childhood arrivals” from other countries. Beginning in 2012 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) federal immigration policy has allowed certain undocumented immigrants to the U.S. who entered the country as minors to apply for deferred action and eligibility for a work permit and international travel. Because DACA is a policy rather than a statute, it can be changed or modified quickly. Just as we advise caution about travel abroad to students or faculty from the countries identified in the Executive Order, we advise TCNJ students and employees who have requested DACA to avoid international travel until the new administration makes clear whether it will continue the DACA policy.

TCNJ students or employees who have questions or concerns about these matters may contact the Center for Global Engagement.

In our mission we assert that we seek to develop “responsible citizens.” In our vision we commit to a “vibrant, collaborative, and inclusive community of learners.” It is consistent with these core values of the college that we express our concern over this Executive Order and offer support to those members of our community who are affected by it.

R. Barbara Gitenstein
President, The College of New Jersey