UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks denounced President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration on Sunday and advised students and staff from banned countries not to leave the U.S.
He noted that the ban reflects a pivitol moment in U.S. policy — one in which the nation's values and ideals will be tested.
“Beyond the (Executive Order’s) effect on the Berkeley community, there is a far larger story at play: our country itself is at an historic crossroads, in debate not simply over a particular immigration policy, but over the very ideals that define our nation,” Dirks wrote.
Trump’s order, issued Friday, indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees’ entry to the U.S., while also barring entry of individuals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days.
The order’s impact was immediate. Many affected travelers were mid-air when it came down, leading to chaos and a slew of protests at airport terminals across the country. In the Bay Area, thousands flocked to San Francisco International Airport to demand the release of detainees.
University of California President Janet Napolitano also advised some students and faculty not to leave the United States — even if they hold visas or are lawful permanent residents.
Individuals originally from the banned countries with immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, as well as those with green cards, have been denied entry into the United States. At least 375 travelers have been impacted by the ban, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
It’s unclear if any Berkeley students were detained at airports over the weekend, but other schools, including Stanford, reported that students coming back from research trips were handcuffed upon trying to enter the country.
"I felt humiliated and scared," Nisrin Elamin, a PhD student at Stanford, told NBC Bay Area. "At that point, I thought I was probably going to either get deported or detained in some place. Why else would they put handcuffs on me? And I started crying."
Dirks directed worried community members to take advantage of the campus’ mental health resources and to brief themselves on information provided by the Berkeley International Office.
“Right now, it is paramount that the students, staff and faculty affected by this EO find the support they need,” Dirks wrote.
A statement from the president of the American Association of Universities urged the Trump administration to immediately lift the ban and to protect students like Elamin.
“The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others,” President Mary Sue Cleman wrote.