Hopkins President Shares Family Refugee Story in Letter Opposing Immigration Ban

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Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels
Johns Hopkins President Ronald Daniels (Provided)

The executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 27, which implemented a 120-day travel ban from seven majority Muslim countries, sparked numerous protests (including at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport) and legal challenges.

One such challenge resulted in a nationwide hold on the ban by a federal judge last week. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the Trump administration’s appeal this week, and it seems likely that the case could end up at the Supreme Court.


Local colleges and universities, like their counterparts across the country, are also making their displeasure known and, in the case of Johns Hopkins University, doing so through one personal refugee story.

Hopkins president Ronald Daniels wrote a long letter distributed across the university Feb. 1, detailing not only the university’s dedication to “openness, freedom of ideas, opportunity for the many, not the few,” but also the story of his father, a Polish immigrant to Canada in 1939.

“Though many years have passed since my father, his two siblings and his parents found safe harbor in Canada, the story of their odyssey is vivid and enduring for me,” Daniels wrote. “In March 1939, my father, then 7 years old, and his family came to Canada as Jewish refugees from Poland, only months before Hitler invaded the country and unleashed his Final Solution on six million European Jews.”

Daniels goes on to say that both the remaining of his father’s family in Europe and his wife’s family were “destroyed.” According to the letter, Daniels became a U.S. citizen about a year ago, proud “to associate myself with its historic standing as a place that has given succor and opportunity to the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”

The letter ends with Daniels saying Hopkins “will strongly support the members of our community who need our direct assistance in the days and months ahead. …To do less is to sacrifice the futures not only of countless individuals, but of our nation and its great institutions.”

Hopkins also dissuades any faculty or students who could be affected from traveling, as does the University System of Maryland, which includes institutions such as the University of Maryland and Towson University.

“The University System of Maryland community reaffirms its deep commitment to diversity and inclusion,” USM chancellor Robert Caret wrote in a statement.

“We join many higher education institutions nationwide in expressing our concern over the temporary banning
of individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entry into the United States.”

Loyola University of Maryland, a private Jesuit school, grounded its concerns in calls to follow the tenets of their faith in helping those less fortunate.

“Embracing our Jesuit, Catholic mission, Loyola actively works to support refugees and new immigrants in the Baltimore area,” Loyola president the Rev. Brian F. Linnane said in a statement. “… We are steadfastly committed to assisting them, as we are committed to all those who are marginalized.

In this moment, I also encourage each of you to keep in mind how deeply we, as a university community, cherish the ideals of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

hmonicken@midatlanticmedia.com

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