By Makena Schoene
Blog & Social Media Coordinator, The Drake Community Press 

We are in the season of change. A new year has been ushered in, as well as a new administration. On January 20th, 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated, taking the Oval Office as the 45th President of the United States, and the changes have been non-stop since the American businessman made the White House his home.

On January 27th, 2017, President Trump announced his executive order entitled “Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which will prevent refugees from certain countries entering the United States. According to the Department of Homeland Security, this 90- day suspension acts to protect the United States from immigrants from countries designated by both Congress and the Obama administration as being higher risks against national security.

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Berlin last year, an executive order geared towards more rigorous vetting and more secure borders would make sense, right? Yet the announcement of the executive order has sparked major backlash among the American people, with many citizens and immigrants from Muslim countries protesting the President’s latest decision.

Many believe the order to be religious discrimination against Muslims, as refugees attempting to enter the United States from countries where the majority of the population is Muslim will face more chance of denial for entry. So how does this affect those already living in our nation – the students receiving their education, the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters working and providing for their families and calling the United States home? America has often been crowned as the land of opportunity, but Trump’s latest executive order could be seen as degradation of this title, turning America into a land of opportunity, but only for certain people.

When interviewed via email, Reverend Sarai Rice, the Executive Director for The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC), DCP’s partner for our latest book project, A Spectrum of Faith, remained non-partisan on the issue out of respect for the member congregations she and her organization represent. A statement was posted to their website in response to the executive order.

“For decades, Iowa has been a beacon of hope for people from around the world seeking refuge from war and religious persecution. Any form of discrimination on the basis of religion is not only a violation of the Constitution, it is also a denial of our values as Iowans. As an interfaith organization, the Des Moines Area Religious Council stands with our brothers and sisters of all faith traditions against religious discrimination and intolerance, and calls on our community to unite in love against any attempt to limit the rights of religious communities who call Greater Des Moines home.”

For many international students in the Drake University community, the recent transition of power has been a source of fear and speculation. With the executive order being put into action, the future is even less clear for those who are not natives to America. Drake University President, Marty Martin, recently released a statement to students via email. “In light of President Trump’s recent executive order restricting entry into the United States for citizens from seven predominately Muslim nations, I want to reaffirm the stance this University took in November. We are and will be a ‘place of refuge or safety’ – our chosen definition of ‘sanctuary’- for all of our students, faculty and staff. We will do all that we can, within the framework of the law, to defend our students’ and employees’ rights. We will protect private information. We will provide programming and education regarding immigrants’ rights. We will continue to advocate for our government’s policies to align with our nation’s best aspirations for equity, opportunity, and inclusion.” For questions, concerns, or more information, please contact Drake International.

This statement has sparked concern among donors who do not like the official term of “sanctuary” attributed to Drake University, as it is seen as a move to work against the government by protecting undocumented students from deportation. While the fate of many affected by Trump’s executive order has become hazy, one thing remains clear. The students, faculty and administration of Drake University are committed to ensuring the opportunity for inclusion and education for all its students. Here at DCP, we focus on bringing students into the world of publishing and giving them the skills that they need to achieve the optimum success, encouraging each and every individual, regardless of their race, gender, or religion, to contribute their own story and history.

Our hope is that A Spectrum of Faith will highlight the rich diversity that has been brought to Des Moines by the same immigrants and refugees that Trump intends to keep out of the United States. There is so much that can be learned from others if we take the time to see past the racial or societal prejudices inflicted by the attention on radicalized groups. This book aims to open up the dialogue between the people who call Des Moines home, creating a discourse based on understanding, acceptance and trust. I have been fortunate enough to wear many hats in my work with the Press, and it has opened my eyes to the myriad of religions that exist right in my back yard. Interacting with the other student interns and writers, you see the relationships that have been built through interaction and conversation, avenues that the Trump administration should consider implanting in their own foreign policies.

The United States used to be called a melting pot, and then it became a salad bowl. With this executive order, the salad bowl is threatening to be closed off from the rich culture and diversity that has colored our neighborhoods, schools and society since our country’s founding. We are not here to protest an order on safety and security, but to protest the denial of those same rights extended to every man, woman and child that comes to us for aid and for the opportunity to contribute to the intricate cloth of life and prosperity that the United States of America has always been proud to bear.


Photo provided by ABC News

References and Resources

Drake University
Reverend Sarai Rice – DMARC via email