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UB students from Iran speak out against immigration order

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

President Trump's executive order on immigration is causing difficulties for some University at Buffalo students. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley spent time at UB's North campus to talk with students about the order that suspends travel from some international students. 

“I want to believe this is an aberration," said Stephen Dunnett, UB vice provost for International Education.

Dunnett told reporters about 122 of UB’s students are from five of the seven countries on the executive order. At least one Iranian graduate student has been prevented from coming back into the U.S. and to UB this semester.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Stephen Dunnett, UB vice provost for International Education.

“This will do, and I think has done, damage to American higher education. You can imagine if you are a parent and you have a 17-year-old or 18-year-old child that you are about to send to Buffalo this fall and you might think twice on whether or not you'd like your child to come here,” Dunnett told reporters Monday.

Monday was the first day back on campus for the new spring semester. Inside UB's Intercultural and Diversity Center, students spoke out against the President's executive order.

“Like being in jail without having any visitors – it’s exactly like that,” declared a student from Iran who declined to offer her name.  She is from Iran, one of the countries on Trump's order.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Inside UB's Intercultural and Diversity Center

The student is working on her PhD. Talking about the immigration order brought tears to her eyes.

“I really don’t know. I haven’t seen any of my friends,” the student said.  

She also pointed out that international students go through a tough vetting process through the university. 

“They have already checked everything about us. It doesn’t make sense for me,” the student explained.

WBFO asked what her message would be to the President.

“I have no message for him. I’m an educated person, in a very high level and most of the friends that I know here are at graduate level, mostly PhD students, who are in very good standing shape, in terms of academics. He can’t understand my message, so I have nothing for him,” replied the student.

UB student Faeze Ghofrani is also from Iran working on her PhD. She’s very disappointed with the President's directive, even finding it insulting.  

“We were living with the hope that our families and beloved ones would be able to come here to visit us after a while, but it seems that we have to be deprived of visiting our families all through the years of our studies, or we have to try to find other options rather than staying in the United States,” Ghofrani explained.

“We are about our students and it is my responsibility to help them as much as I can,” Dunnett remarked. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Outside the office for International Education.

Dunnett pointed out the university's vetting process in selecting international students is very extensive. He noted UB has never experienced trouble with its international students.

"All of our students are very thoroughly vetted. We’ve never had any difficulties with the students who studied here,” Dunnett said. “So if somebody wanted to do damage to our country or to us, the last Visa they would apply for would be a Student Visa. The process takes more than a year, sometimes a year and a half.”   

“Mr. President, you know that we have passed a very tough way to get here. Several months of administrative processing to issue a single entry Visa and still it is not for us,” stated Ghofrani.

For now, UB will continue monitoring the situation closely. They advise all their international students to remain in the U.S. and avoid traveling over the Canadian borders.   

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