LSU president says ‘significant alarm’ raised on campus by Trump’s immigration ban

LSU President F. King Alexander sent a statement to all students and faculty on Monday afternoon, taking no position on President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration ban but acknowledging it is causing “significant alarm” on campus.

Alexander affirms the university’s support for international students in the statement, and says LSU is “monitoring the issue” and will update students and faculty who could be affected.

“Our colleagues from the international community are more than simply welcome at LSU—they are respected and valued, and we are appreciative of their contributions to the success of our university,” Alexander says.

LSU Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Dereck Rovaris says there are over 100 students at the university affected by the order, as well as faculty members with families. He has heard concerns from students since before the election about traveling home, and he says many chose to stay in the U.S. for winter break due to their concerns.

“It’s not just your typical 19-, 20-year-old, it’s faculty members too, and they have families, some have spouses in their home countries, so it’s a big issue,” Rovaris says of those affected at LSU. “It’s kind of embarrassing that we’ve reached this point, and the hope is we’ll get this thing right and get back on track.”

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Louisiana does not expect the Bayou State to see the same type of airport detentions and legal challenges that are making headlines in other states across the country.

ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman notes there are not any direct flights from any of the seven countries included in the ban to Louisiana.

“We have not been aware of anybody (in Louisiana) who has been directly affected—as opposed to people who are afraid,” Esman says. “If such a thing occurs we will certainly take whatever action is necessary to take.”

As of 2015, there were roughly 16,677 Arab Americans in Louisiana, according to the Arab American Institute Foundation, ranking the state 22nd in the country. According to Board of Regents data from last year, there were 180 students from the seven countries at in-state public colleges and universities, most of them Iranian. LSU had the largest share of Iranian students with 145.

A spokesman for the Islamic Center of Baton Rouge says it has not received reports of Louisiana residents affected, but adds the center is worried about students on extended winter breaks in those countries, as well as green card holders and visiting family members.

“Even more importantly, we’re concerned that the action might precipitate discrimination and hate,” says ICBR spokesman Ali Abidi.

—Sam Karlin

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