Department of History, University of Toronto: Statement on US Executive Order on Immigration

February 6, 2017 by Department of History Staff

Department of History, University of Toronto
Statement on US Executive Order on Immigration

The United States Government has issued an executive order temporarily banning immigrants and visa holders from seven Muslim majority countries, as well as blocking all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. The Department of History at the University of Toronto categorically condemns this action. While we would not normally comment on executive action taken by the United States, this action directly affects students, staff, and faculty at the University of Toronto. Members of our community may now be forbidden from traveling to the US, with adverse effects on their professional activities and personal relationships.

As a university community we value the free flow of people and ideas, as expressed in the University of Toronto’s statement on the ban. As historians we are acutely aware of histories of discrimination and persecution, and particularly the targeting of minorities and refugees. We research and teach on racism and xenophobia, the importance of religious freedom, and the defense of pluralism and tolerance. The executive order represents an affront to human rights and basic decency; it offends democratic and ethical principles and it is a sober reminder that the closing of borders to vulnerable populations endangered by persecution and war is not a relic of the past.

We not only condemn this action, but affirm support to our students and colleagues should they be directly affected by this order. We call on our professional associations, including but not limited to the Canadian Historical Association, to condemn the executive order and to make accommodation for those who cannot travel due to the ban. As scholars in Canada, we urge our local and federal governments to work towards immediate, tangible, and decisive actions to support those communities most affected by these policies. We applaud Prime Minister Trudeau’s affirmation that Canada will continue to welcome those “fleeing persecution, terror and war” regardless of faith or country of origin, and that “diversity is our strength.” In this light we urge the government to take in more refugees and migrants, particularly those belonging to populations targeted by the ban, and to work toward the repeal of Bill C-24.

Our community is actively reviewing the specific ways that this hostile policy affects our students and colleagues, and commits to taking concrete actions to attempt to neutralize those harms. As we make progress on that front, we will update this response.

In the meantime, we urge caution for students, faculty, and staff from the affected countries in making travel plans – see the University of Toronto Safety Abroad website. As noted by the University in its statement: “Students travelling abroad with concerns should call the Safety Abroad Office directly 416-946-3929; in the case of an emergency, reach us at the 24-hour collect emergency line via Campus Police at 416-978-2222. International students on all three U of T campuses who have concerns or questions can reach staff at the Centre for International Experience at 416-978-2564 or email” Faculty and staff are also encouraged to notify the University of their international travel plans and exercise caution when travelling to, or through, the United States.

Department of History, University of Toronto