TALLAHASSEE — As Florida State University students go about their regular activities and attend classes, one Iranian student from the school has been barred from returning to the United States.
Because of President Trump’s immigration ban, according to a recent report by the Tallahassee Democrat, the Iranian student — who wanted to remain anonymous — has been stranded in Iran. The student had returned to his native Iran for his father’s funeral. He was in the Unites States on an F-1 visa, which is common for many students from other countries.
However, the president signed an executive order in January that bans all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and halts entry of residents from the primarily Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia.
A federal judge from Washington state blocked the ban on Feb. 3, and an appeals court in San Francisco upheld the judge's decision on Feb. 9, according to a story on the Washington Post's website.
Terence Coonan, executive director of FSU’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights and an associate professor of criminology, is leading the charge to come to the student’s aid. Coonan is also internationally known for his human rights and immigration work, according to the Democrat report. He also teaches human-rights courses at the FSU College of Law.
“There is so much uncertainty in the country right now,” Coonan told the Florida Record. “We have an entire immigration system that is just in limbo. We also have federal agencies very unclear about what their role will be.”
Coonan said several hundred students in Florida alone are impacted by the executive order and they are being advised to stay in the country.
“We’ve reached out to legislatures and politicians so far,” he said. “There are significant constitutional issues at hand here.”
The Center for the Advancement of Human Rights staff is also in touch with the FSU Center for Global Engagement and reaching out to members of Congress, according to the Democrat report.
There are two points that need to be addressed as Coonan and his colleagues see it. One is the Establishment Clause of the Constitution and the question of whether or not the executive order is actually an anti-Muslim ban. The second point has to do with the Plenary Power doctrine, which states that the legislative and executive branches of government determine immigration policy.
“Questions need to be asked,” Coonan said. “What is the role of Congress in immigration law, and can the president move forward with this ban without Congress?”
Coonan and FSU staff are offering pro bono legal representation to the student.
“We are doing everything we are able to support him (the student) academically and all that we can do to assist his return to the United States,” FSU officials said in a statement in a story on WCTV's website.