UWC International publishes Open Letter from UWC Community Members Regarding US Executive Order on Immigration

As soon as the US government had issued the Executive Order "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States", UWC alumni came  together on  social media to draft an “Open Letter from UWC Community Members Regarding the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Immigration”, expressing their deep concern with the Executive Order and its effects. What started as a conversation on Facebook soon became much bigger - and by the end of 30 January 2017, over 2,500 members of the UWC community had signed the Open Letter showing their support and commitment to a world which values diversity and to a community which stands for educating young people independent of their nationality and religious background.

In the night of 30 to 31 January 2017, the signature page was however hacked by white supremacists who deleted the last signatures and left racist comments.

To ensure that the Open Letter continues to be available, UWC International is herewith posting it on its own website. We have further set up the Open Letter on the well known platform change.org to continue collecting signatures from members of the UWC community and anybody who supports the UWC mission to “make education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”.

When you sign, please make sure to include your UWC affiliation and - if you wish - a comment on why you support the Open Letter into the “I am signing because…” section. 

All signatures received before 31 January 2017 which we were able to save are recorded here. If your name is recorded on the document, you do not need to sign the Open Letter again. 

Please also make sure to share the Open Letter via your social media networks, in order to expand its reach.

UWC International thanks the UWC alumni who drafted and supported this letter. Your engagement and commitment to a more peaceful world which celebrates diversity makes us proud!

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An Open Letter from UWC (United World College) Community Members Regarding the Trump Administration’s Executive Order on Immigration

We are the students, faculty, staff and 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 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. As it stands, 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. 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 members of our community--  our fellow students, friends, and colleagues. 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 terrifyingly 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. We will refuse to give in to fear and division. And in this spirit, we strongly denounce this ban and urge President Trump to rescind this Executive Order.