Four years ago, the Immigration Response Team was created to support the campus community after the signing of the first Travel Ban preventing entry to the U.S. for individuals from several Muslim-majority countries. And yesterday, in one of his first actions after being sworn into office, President Biden signed an executive order repealing that ban. He also signed several other immigration-related executive orders (including a measure reaffirming protections for DACA recipients), and Acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske signed a memo pausing most deportations for 100 days as review occurs of the agency’s enforcement practices and policies. As the head of the Immigration Response Team, I’m so pleased by these actions and have hope that this will mark the beginning of a different approach to immigration going forward.
Over the last four years, I have been privileged and honored to work with immigrants, departments, and faculty and staff throughout the University of Minnesota system to address immigration-related questions. This work has ranged from supporting immigrant students with concerns their immigration status would complicate plans to study abroad, to staff and departments who had to work through travel restrictions that threatened the employee’s ability to return to their work and life in Minnesota after traveling to see family. I have also been humbled by the tenacity and brilliance of our immigrant students in the face of ever-shifting rules and policies that have impacted their immigration status.
Looking forward, I am hopeful the work of the Immigration Response Team will shift as the nation’s tone and policy associated with immigration changes. It will always be important to be proactive, as the immigration regulations and processes will continue to be complex and have a variety of unknown and unexpected consequences for individuals and institutions. It is also likely that certain travel restrictions will remain due to the public health concerns created by COVID.
To the immigrant students, staff, and faculty at the University of Minnesota: We know that this is an exciting time but also one filled with questions. While there is optimism for the changes to come, there will still be many steps and details to be sorted out as new policies are introduced and developed. It is also likely these new opportunities will result in new processes and requirements to understand. The Immigration Response Team is here to help you. Please attend the IRT Drop-In Hours, contact us, and (for degree-seeking students) apply to the Dream Fund, when necessary.
To the UMN community: It will continue to be important to show support for immigrants moving forward. We encourage you to continue reaching out to immigrants you know in our community. We are currently accepting donations for the Dream Fund, and we expect to continue to receive new applications from students as new opportunities become available. We will also share more opportunities to take action as new policies are developed.