SEMO President speaks out on Trump's travel, immigration ban - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

SEMO President speaks out on Trump's travel, immigration ban

(Source: HankCavagnaro/KFVS) (Source: HankCavagnaro/KFVS)

Southeast Missouri University estimates there 12 to 15 students attending the university who are originally from the countries affected by the travel and immigration ban which President Trump signed into effect last week.

The executive order has suspended entry into the United States from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days.

Following the signing President Vargas sent out the following letter to all students.

To Southeast faculty, staff, and students,

Most of you are aware of the fact that I am an immigrant to this great country, having come here many years ago in pursuit of a better education and a brighter future. I am very proud of the fact that I recently became a U.S. citizen, and I am also quite aware of the anxiety and the challenges faced by our international community in light of the recent Executive Order suspending entry into the United States from the countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days.

Southeast Missouri State University has a long history of accepting and educating international students. We value the different perspectives and cultures that our international students bring to our University and into our region. They enrich the educational experiences of our students, faculty and staff. They also bring a global dimension to our culture and build lifelong friendships and networks which can only enhance the social, cultural and trade relationships between our countries.  Mutual understanding comes as a result of personally knowing each other – sharing our cultures, values, opinions and insights.

It is extremely important that you understand that this University will continue to welcome, support and assist our international students, faculty and staff.  They are an important part of our University life and we will stand with them and beside them.

Currently we have five students from the affected countries who are studying here in Cape Girardeau.  We have reached out to each of those students to offer assistance and support.  We do not currently have any faculty or staff from the countries as outlined in the Executive Order.  We are consulting with legal counsel to ascertain legal issues and rights as they pertain to our international students, faculty and staff, and we will reach out to federal and state elected officials as appropriate.  I want to assure you that we will do everything within the power of the law to protect the members of our University community, regardless of their religion or country of origin.

To summarize, I believe I understand the anxiety and the fear of the unknown that many of our international students, faculty, and staff are currently facing.  I would invite those affected to contact our Office of International Education and Services, or please call on me as I truly care, and I want to reassure you.  As you may remember, my inaugural theme was and continues to be “We Are One!”  There is no better time than now to stand together as a University community to ensure that we are doing everything we can to instill the value that “We Are One” at Southeast Missouri State University.


Carlos Vargas

The university president also met with reporters to discuss what this means for SEMO.

“We wanted to reassure the students that we were going to do our best and work with them to answer questions and help them understand as much as we can the latitude that the have," Vargas said.

He also praised the community for excepting international students and helping them through this time.

“There’s a lot of really close relationships that have been generated so I think that…. That kind of relationship will be very helpful in helping those students deal with this situation at this point”

Vargas also plans meeting with all of the students to discuss what they need him to do to help.

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