On Jan. 27, 2017, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order preventing natives of seven Muslim-majority nations entering the country for the next 90 days and curtailing the entry of refugees and immigrants for the next 120 days. Officially entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” the order temporarily impacts citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, and indefinitely stops refugees from entering the country from Syria. The order has received widespread media publicity, with protests developing across the country.
President Donald Trump signing the executive order which bans travel from 7 Middle Eastern countries.
Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., President of Niagara University, issued an official statement concerning the order on Jan. 31.
“I am writing today to tell you that Niagara University stands in solidarity with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and numerous other organizations in questioning the effects of the Executive Order signed by President Donald J. Trump on Friday,” Father Maher said in a statement.
Father Maher evoked the teachings of St. Vincent de Paul, stating “Today, more than ever, we continue to follow St. Vincent’s call, and inspire our students to serve all members of society from every faith tradition in local communities and in the larger world.”
Also in response, Niagara University’s Muslim Student Alliance (MSA) issued a statement on Feb. 2, the same day they helped sponsor a gathering at St. Vincent’s Circle in support of immigrant Americans and international citizens.
“It’s quite unfortunate that the immigration ban has become a reality. It targets many populations, more specifically Muslims and Muslim refugees,” the MSA said. “When you look at a contemporary example, many Muslims from Iraq, and other banned counties have risked their lives to help and protect Americans and our American values selflessly, and are now burdened with reality of having to return to or remain in a hostile environment in which they may not be welcome anymore,” they said.
The MSA, per Niagara University’s website “seeks to educate the student body about Islam and Islamic Cultures in an effort to bridge gaps and build diversity.”
“Diversity strengthens a people and provides differing perspectives, morals and values offering a most thorough shield of protection against ignorance, enmity and arrogance. It enables compassion to flow freely and heal maladies that otherwise metastasize and manifest hatred and disparity without reason other than fear of the unknown,” the MSA said. “All people should be given an equal opportunity in the pursuit of happiness. Hatred only breeds hatred and love breeds love.”
Per a 2016 Bizjournal.com article by Dan Miner, Niagara had nearly 700 foreign students as recently as the fall 2015 semester. Father Maher’s statement also mentioned the fact that students and faculty come to the university from over 40 countries.