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IECA Statement on Executive Orders Impacting Students and Families

IECA

The Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) opposes any policy or action that discriminates based on national origin or religion, or that infringes on the fundamental rights of students and families to pursue education. Two of US President Trump’s executive orders issued in the past ten days are in conflict with those values. One of these orders curtails funding for “sanctuary cities” and a second restricts immigration to the United States by refugees and foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries. These executive orders interfere with the mission, values, and practices of our members who work to ensure that every student finds an appropriate educational pathway.

The future of 700,000 students who are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy is now uncertain, as these students could be impacted by the “sanctuary cities” order. DACA allows the children of illegal immigrants brought to this country by their parents to receive temporary protection from deportation, work permits, and a path to citizenship if they have not committed any crimes. If DACA were rescinded, these young people (‘dreamers’), who are culturally Americans, would face numerous challenges, including unemployment, the inability to go to college, and the risk of deportation.

The ban on immigration order raises serious uncertainty for current and future foreign students. Many students in US schools and colleges have grave concerns about returning to their home country for fear that they may not be admitted back into the United States. We also believe these restrictions will affect families beyond the initial list of countries because students who are considering studying in the United States will fear that they may not be permitted entry, even with appropriate visas.

As advocates and advisors to students around the globe and across a wide range of demographics, these actions affect our professional work.  IECA leadership and members will work together with our education partners in schools, colleges, and other non-profit organizations to continue to advise all current and prospective students affected by these orders.

 

4 Responses to IECA Statement on Executive Orders Impacting Students and Families

  1. I would like to know how it was decided that the IECA should take a stand on this. We have assiduously avoided commenting on all matter of politically sensitive topics related to higher education. For example, we have not articulated positions on campus controversies such as free speech, due process in the adjudication of sexual assault allegations, providing “safe spaces”, etc. Yet, we decide to weigh in on this? While I agree that these executive orders may be detrimental to these students, the statement may be dismissed as self-serving. For example, “these actions affect our professional work” may be interpreted by the reader as “these actions affect our business”. I fear that this statement makes us look less like a professional association and more like a self-interested trade association.

  2. Mark Sklarow says:

    Jim,

    Thanks for raising a valuable question. Allow me to explain as best I can. IECA has always had the right to weigh in on issues that the Board deems important to our mission or core values. Those can be found on our website.

    Last year, for example, the Board approved a policy that would disallow any IECA conference or program being planned in a state that permitted citizens to discriminate against against others in business, due to sexual orientation or sexual identity.

    In the past several weeks, many raised objections to specific actions initiated by the President of the US. The IECA Board chose to weigh in only in those areas judged to impact members’ clients. The statement does not speak to the broader issues of immigration and security. Rather, we endorse the opportunity afforded legal residents and proper visa-holders to pursue education in the US.

    IECA’s statement is in keeping with our values of respect, diversity and service to all students and families. It is similar to statements put out by hundreds of colleges, schools, and national educational organizations.

    We know these are tense times and any action could be judged in the light of our politically heated national dialogue. This statement (despite some comments from specific members exercising their free speech rights) was not meant as a broader condemnation. It was meant to deal with the issue we are expert at: advising students on pursuing their educational dreams.

    • Mark,

      Thank you for the explanation. I wholeheartedly support earlier IECA statements and positions you reference on non-discrimination due to sexual orientation and identity. However, this statement struck me as venturing into murkier waters. While I also support the legal right of international students to attend American colleges and universities, these executive orders will not just negatively impact affected students, but also revenue for IECA members who work internationally. Therefore, there is a higher likelihood of this statement being interpreted by the public as less pure and noble (compared to our earlier statements on non-discrimination) and more tinged with some self-interest. So, I support the statement’s intent as you have explained it, but think we should have left any reference to our “professional work” out of it and focused exclusively on the impact on students.

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