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USF Students, Faculty Protest Immigration Order

Jan 30, 2017

Students and faculty at the University of South Florida Tampa campus gathered Monday to protest President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

The order, issued Friday, places a 90-day ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  The prohibition on entry includes green card holders.

Nicole Ford teaches comparative politics at USF. She hopes today's demonstrations inspire people to get involved in politics beyond the classroom.

"Now people are starting to wake up and realize that their voice does matter, that they need to vote, that they need to get involved in the process,” Ford said. “You can take nothing for granted. And I hope that this will be an impetus on campus for people to continue this and ensure that their voice is heard, and expand that out into the larger community."

USF has about 4,800 international students, and 123 are from the countries affected by the president's travel ban. 

In response to the president's actions USF officials released a statement:

"We are continuing to monitor the developments out of Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Courts to determine how the Executive Order may potentially impact the university.”

Further emails circulated by USF advised citizens of the seven countries named in the executive order to check with the school's office of International Services before traveling outside of the U.S.

“Our advice: Until there is further clarification or guidance the USF Office of International Services (OIS) advise that all people who are citizens of, or were born in, one of these countries do not travel abroad without consultation with this office first. There is currently no indication that your visa status is being questioned while you remain in the United States."

At Tampa International Airport

Over the weekend, customs and border patrol agents in airports across the country detained travelers arriving from Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq and Iran - including some legal U.S. residents with green cards.

Danny Valentine, a spokesperson with Tampa International Airport, said no travelers from those countries had arrived at TIA since the order was issued.

“We've had no detainees at the airport,” Valentine said. “In general, we have a limited number of international flights and we're not one of the major hubs. We're not like a New York JFK or Atlanta, Chicago - something like that."

Valentine said protestors were at the airport Saturday and were turned away because they didn't have a permit.

He said TIA officials will either issue a permit within three hours of receiving an application or notify the applicant in writing why their permit was delayed or denied. 

“We had one group pick up a permit application on Saturday but it has not been returned,” Valentine said. “Our airport team was here yesterday (Sunday) and ready to approve permits, if requested.”

There were protests over the weekend  in downtown Tampa and in Ybor City.

Florida lawmakers on the order

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio issued a joint statement with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott saying he generally supports additional vetting of those trying to enter the U.S., but disagrees with the way it was done.

After reviewing the recent Executive Orders, it is clear to us that some of what is being said and reported about the scope and implications of these measures is misleading. However, it is also clear that the manner in which these measures were crafted and implemented have greatly contributed to the confusion, anxiety and uncertainty of the last few days.

We generally support additional vetting for many of those entering our country from nations where the United States has identified there are serious concerns regarding terrorist activities and planning. But given the broad scope and nature of these policy changes, we have some unanswered questions and concerns.

We are seeking clarity on the changes to the Visa Waiver program, which is critical to the economies of our respective states.

And we are uneasy about the potential impact of these measures on our military and our diplomatic personnel abroad, as well as those who put their lives on the line to work with us.

We are both committed to doing what we must to keep America safe. We are equally committed to the defense of religious liberty and our tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing persecution. Like so many Americans, we are both guided by our belief that when we stand before our Creator to face judgment, He will say that “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."

That is why we intend to do all we can to both keep America safe, and keep America special.

Miami Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo tweeted Sunday that U.S. permanent residents should not be detained or deported since they've already been thoroughly vetted.