Man on the Street: Students fear, oppose Trump’s travel ban
February 6, 2017
“I did go to a protest at Discovery Green, I am a Muslim and it affected a lot of people that I know,” said S. Mehdi Jafri, a management information systems junior. “When the ban happened, there was one Persian man, his wife and kid went back to Iran and he put a post on Facebook saying ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever see my wife again.’ The people who are for [the ban], they don’t see the bigger picture, they only see the small details. Since it’s not happening to them, they don’t see how it affects them. People at the protest were yelling at us to go back home, that’s why I wrote ‘Love over Hate’ because I really believe that spreading love over hate creates a more peaceful world.”
“As a Muslim immigrant from the Middle East, I see it as a very scary thing,” said Ibrahim Alhebeba, a computer engineering freshman. “I can’t see my family for another extra year since they’re telling me not to come back because you never know what’s going to happen. I liked [Renu Khator’s] response. I feel safe just knowing that this university is actually supporting me and people like me.”
“At first, I didn’t believe [the ban] was truly a thing,” said Edgar Tapia, a biotechnology sophomore. “But once it was all over the news and that it was pretty much our reality, it was really a shock because you don’t usually view America as shunning immigrants or pushing them away. My parents were immigrants and I know the struggles they went through to come here. America gave them many opportunities and I’m here at this university because of them and this wonderful country. I really liked what Renu said, pretty much supporting our fellow Cougars because they should not feel fear or discomfort over this ban. I want to stand up with them in case they feel unsafe because no one should feel that way since this is the country where you can be happy and follow your dreams.”
“I don’t necessarily agree with [the ban],” said Kelsie Smith, a kinesiology junior. “I know a lot of these people have their visas and they’re already allowed to enter the U.S. so I don’t really see what the issue is. Although I don’t keep up with politics as much as I probably should, I know just enough to understand that this isn’t right. I think the university has reacted positively, knowing the university is a diverse place. Making sure these students don’t leave is making sure our population is protected and they’re showing their concern. I haven’t seen anything from SGA (Student Government Association), I think they should take part because they’re supposed to be representing the students, it’s not just the President and the Provost. That’s a little disappointing.”
“I think the ban came a little impulsively, I don’t think everything was thought out properly before it was implemented,” said Carlos Cazares, a mechanical engineering technology senior. “We had a similar ban in 2011, but it didn’t come as impulsively and I understand what the President is trying to do, but before you try to ban certain people from a country you should have all the details really planned out. It left a lot of people at airports with questions, and officials with questions and not direction. Personally, I like the way the university is handling it. Students here shouldn’t be affected by it and I’m proud to say that my university took a stance on protecting and siding with its students and faculty.”
“I just don’t think it’s right to ban countries that are predominantly Muslim,” said Denisse Aguilar, a biology freshman. “They’re trying to justify banning a group of people based on religion while there’s a lot of internal problems in your own country. The university responded in a good way, I think it’s good they took a stance to protect their students.”
Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed an executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Most notably, it restricted the entry of citizens from seven predominantly-Muslim countries including Libya, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.
When the ban was first implemented, there was confusion as to whether this applied to green card holders. Consequently, several people were detained in airports across the nation. Two days later, it was clarified that the order did not apply to lawful permanent residents. In the wake of these events, protests erupted across the nation against the order and Trump.
University of Houston President and Chancellor Renu Khator stated in an email that “the University of Houston stands with our students, faculty and staff from all countries, races, religions and backgrounds.” According to the statement, the ban affects 280 students, faculty and staff. She advised that members of the communities potentially affected refrain from leaving the country until more details emerge.
The Cougar asked students what their thoughts on the ban were and how they felt about the university’s response.