CHICAGO — The University of Chicago is urging President Donald Trump to continue welcoming immigrants as controversy broils over a policy that restricts travel to the United States.
Last week, Trump signed executive orders that barred refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from coming to the United States. Protests erupted throughout the country — including at O'Hare Airport — over the policies, which are facing legal challenges.
U. of C. President Robert Zimmer sent a letter to students, faculty and staff, saying the university was "committed" to supporting community members who have been affected by the immigration policy changes.
U. of C. has been working to bring people "from around the world" to the campus for a decade, Zimmer wrote. About 13.7 percent of the university's class of 2020 are international students, according to the school's website.
"This is a challenging moment around an issue of critical importance for us all," Zimmer wrote.
In a separate letter addressed to Trump, Zimmer said he was writing in "the strongest possible terms" to urge the president to continue to welcome immigrants "and the talent and energy that they bring to this country."
Advocates of the immigration changes have said they were a safety precaution as officials determine if immigrants, visitors and refugees are being "vetted" enough.
Zimmer said the university understood Trump's actions were motivated by "a concern for national security and the threat of terrorism," which he said U. of C. takes "very seriously."
"But we strongly urge that the methods of doing so be examined and thought through carefully, so that the many people who can add so much to the country through immigration have the opportunity to do so, and those who are doing so already are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve," Zimmer wrote. "It is only this way that our values and highest aspirations can be fulfilled."