Open Letter On "Muslim Ban"

An Open Letter from United World College Graduates Regarding the Trump Administration’s Ban on Muslims

We are the alumni of the United World Colleges movement. We are citizens of over 150 countries. We are people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, genders, political affiliations, and beliefs. We represent a movement that came of age as a direct response to forces of divisiveness, as a bridge in a time when others were building walls. For decades, UWC students have left their home countries to live, work, and study alongside others we may have little in common with, other than our shared belief in education as a force to “unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” Many of us have lived, studied, and worked in the United States. Many of us are currently students at colleges and institutions in the United States. As UWC graduates, we have all contributed to the United States-- as students, as workers, as organizers, as researchers. We believe in education as a unifying force. We believe diversity makes our countries stronger. We reject bigotry, hatred, and intolerance in all its forms. And today, we would like to voice our strong opposition to the Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” signed by President Donald Trump, which temporarily bans all persons of Iranian, Iraqi, Syrian, Sudanese, Yemeni, Libyan and Somali origin from entering the United States, and suspends Syrian refugee admissions indefinitely.

The Executive Order is discriminatory and unconstitutional. It violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from favoring any religion. President Trump’s anti-Muslim policy also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees that everyone is entitled to equal protection under the law. It unfairly targets thousands of immigrants, legal permanent residents, asylum-seekers, students, business people, and tourists on the basis of national origin. It disproportionately impacts nationals of Muslim-majority countries. This sort of discrimination runs counter to America’s democratic principles, and is antithetical to the values we hold as UWC alumni.

The Executive Order will severely and immediately impact our fellow students, friends, colleagues, and members of our community. Many of us arrived in the United States as international students. Many of us have stayed on, and contributed to the United States through our work. The EO will have a fatally disruptive impact on the lives of other students, workers, and researchers who have the potential to contribute immensely to the United States. It will tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the US and limiting travel for those who reside and work in the US. It is the reason a scientist from Iran will no longer be able to contribute to cardiovascular research in Boston, or why Sudanese students in some of the US’s most prestigious universities must choose between their education and seeing their families this summer. It is why people who are coming to the United States for the same reasons we did-- to work, to study, to live-- are being made to turn back. These restrictions do not make America great. They only divide us further.

As alumni, we are committed to bringing refugees to our schools, our countries, and into our movement. Our Student Scholarship Fund has enabled numerous students from Syria and Palestine to pursue high school at UWCs worldwide. Our students, faculty, and staff have actively worked to ensure that no lack of documentation or financial constraint will prevent the best and brightest from joining us as classmates. They are important, valued members of our communities and the UWC family. And as such, we will continue to stand up for our classmates and the communities they represent. We will actively encourage our elected leaders, both in the United States and abroad, to reject policies that, in the name of national security, openly discriminate against people on the basis of their religion or national origin. We will speak out publicly against hate and intolerance because our education has truly shown us that together, we are stronger.

We stand with refugees. We stand with immigrants. We stand with anyone who has ever left their home country in pursuit of opportunities in the United States, as many of us have done in the past. We will refuse to give into fear and division. And in this spirit, we strongly denounce this ban and urge President Trump to rescind this Executive Order.


Marco Cecconi
UWCSEA. 1990

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