February 24, 2017 by Walker Alexander
In the wake of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, the Office of International Programs and the Office of the Provost organized a faculty-student forum Feb. 8 in the A. J. Drexel Picture Gallery.
Faculty speakers included Anil Kalhan (law), Erin Graham (political science), Richard Frankel (law), Rachel Reynolds (anthropology), Alden Young (Africana studies), Ana Diez Roux (public health), Banu Onaral (biomedical engineering) and Bahram Nabet (electrical engineering).
Provost Brian Blake gave an opening statement, and then Senior Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Julie Mostov took the role of moderator for both the panel and audience questions.
The first faculty speaker was Anil Kalhan, who gave background information on the executive order, which included a staggered effect on seven Muslim-majority countries. He explained the background for the order, which aimed to halt immigration from the seven countries for 90 days, refugee admissions to the United States for 120 days and admissions for Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Erin Graham shared her expertise next. Graham provided background on the nature of executive orders and the power they represent. She explained that these orders are official directives to executive agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of the Interior.
She explained that while these orders do have the force of law, they are subject to checks by Congress, who can nullify them. But since this action would likely be vetoed by the President — barring the two-thirds majority needed in both houses of Congress to override such a veto — these issues are often battled in the court, just as with this executive order.
Graham then continued by pointing out flaws in the arguments used to justify the order, pointing out that of the 94 US deaths attributed to Jihadist terrorism in the past 15 years, none of them were at the hands of a person from any of the countries on the list.
“Refugees are subject to a vetting process … only the most vulnerable are approved,” Graham said.
“It’s about one percent,” she continued.
The next two speakers, Peter Frankel and Rachel Reynolds, spoke about the hectic rollout of the order and the role that immigrants play in society and higher education, respectively.
Speaking as an expert on Sudanese developmental and economic history was Alden Young. Sudan is one of the nations named in the order, but Young explained that this shows discontinuity with the easing relations between the United States and Sudan.
In the final days of his presidency, Barack Obama signed an order that rolled back sanctions prohibiting firms from trading in Sudan. The administration attributed the move to cooperative counterterrorism efforts and actions that decreased internal violence.
The sanctions were originally put in place in 1993 as a response to Sudanese hosting and backing of terrorist groups such as al-Qaida.
The final three speakers, Ana Diez Roux, Banu Onaral and Bahram Nabet, respectively explained the impact that negative sentiment towards a group can have on public health, the effect the order will have on Drexel’s global initiatives and the importance of diversity in the scientific community.
The forum ended with a question-and-answer session during which a microphone was passed through the crowd. About half of the audience members asked questions and the other half shared their feelings on the order.
More information about the order’s effect and Drexel’s response to it is available on the International Students & Scholars Services webpage.