Since it was issued late last week, President Trump's executive order calling for a travel ban on refugees and immigrants from seven nations has reverberated across the U.S. In Central New York, more than 1,000 people protested the action at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport on Sunday, mirroring similar protests across the country.
The reaction by Catholic Church and Jesuit leadership has also been clear. Pope Francis recently said, "It's hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help..." Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., the interim executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service, similarly stated in an open letter to the president: "Our country’s welcome of these newcomers expresses who we are as a people. It is a sign of our commitment to the rights of refugees to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution." The message is clear - care for the vulnerable is a moral imperative that is grounded in the fabric of our nation and our Christian beliefs.
During these extraordinary times, I want to add my voice to the growing chorus of leaders in education who are speaking out on behalf of their students and our nation. As president of Le Moyne, I too urge our nation to show compassion for all members of humankind, particularly those fleeing the ravages of war, religious persecution, ethnic cleansing, and other dire and life-threatening situations.
Our Jesuit heritage, with its core commitment to the service of faith through the promotion of social justice, directs that we work to protect all members of our human family. Le Moyne's Student Development division is leading a college-wide effort to work with students from the affected countries to ensure they are supported during this time.
Many have asked what they can do in support. Some suggestions: Donate to or volunteer at local agencies such as Catholic Charities and Interfaith Works, which support the resettlement of refugees to Syracuse; donate to the ACLU; and attend campus lectures and programs coordinated by the Muslim Student Association, Multicultural Affairs, and faculty on topics of inclusion.
I hope that you join me in praying for those impacted by this order and for our nation's leaders to use the power of discernment to take the right and just action.
Linda LeMura, Ph.D.