MEIS Statement on Executive Order to Limit Entry of Middle Eastern Refugees and Immigrants
The Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at NYU condemns in the strongest possible terms the Executive Order limiting the entry of refugees, immigrants, permanent US residents, and visitors from Muslim-majority countries. The order directly targets members of our community, including our students and faculty, based on their country of origin, and it implicates all scholars working on the Middle East broadly defined. We are deeply concerned that such policies criminalize religious background, race, and nationality and obfuscate the history of foreign interventions in the region, including those of the US, that have directly contributed to the destabilization of the Middle East.
As a recent Middle East Studies Association (MESA) statement points out, the Executive Order disproportionately affects the field of Middle East Studies. It has canceled the valid visas of students and faculty from the impacted Middle Eastern countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) who are currently conducting research, planning to attend academic conferences, or simply traveling abroad. It makes precarious the status of those in the US whose visas will expire during the period of the ban and who may no longer be able to renew them. It undermines our capacity to recruit students, faculty, and visiting scholars from the region which we study and to hold academic conferences with international experts in our field. In all of these cases, it violates academic freedom and the right to an education free of discrimination based on religious background or nationality. Meanwhile, US citizens planning to conduct research and attend conferences in the region may become ensnarled in this immigration regime and face retaliations by other countries. The possibility that new countries may be added to the existing list exacerbates the current climate of uncertainty. Such discriminatory policies are likely to hurt one of the most competitive higher education systems in the world, which draws its strength from its diversity and its prioritization of academic and research excellence.
In this climate, the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies commits to continue to prioritize excellence of research over the religious background and nationality of our current students, prospective students, faculty, and visiting scholars. As recommended by MESA, we will continue to admit students according to their academic qualifications and refuse to discriminate in our admission policies. We will maintain our hiring standards and continue to consider qualified scholars from the affected countries as candidates in competitive job searches. We will make every effort to provide support and resources to our current students, prospective students, faculty, and visiting scholars who can no longer enter or safely leave the country. Further, we will continue to monitor the deeply troubling situation and use our expertise on the region to address and speak out against these damaging and discriminatory policies.