I’m delighted that NAFSA’s members voted for and the Board of Directors approved a resolution I submitted for consideration at today’s business meeting here at the annual conference in Kansas City. The resolution calls for the immediate repeal of anti-immigrant legislation by the State of Arizona urges other states to refrain from passing similar measures; asks the U.S. Congress to act quickly to enact comprehensive immigration reform; and resolves the association to not hold national and regional meetings in the State of Arizona until the situation is rectified.
In reflecting on the spirit of this resolution over the past few weeks, I recalled NAFSA’s statement of values:
NAFSA’s members share a belief that international education advances learning and scholarship, builds understanding and respect among different peoples, and enhances constructive leadership in the global community. We believe that international education by its nature is fundamental to fostering peace, security, and well-being. I would especially like to highlight the second clause–builds understanding and respect among different peoples.
With its values, mission, and goals firmly in mind, I really felt that NAFSA could not, in good conscience, hold its annual meeting at this time without speaking out on this issue. Our silence would be deafening. Our membership, indeed all our clients around the world, look to us to take leadership on issues of basic justice, fairness, due process. They want to know what NAFSA is saying—and we’re saying “it’s wrong; repeal it.”
Of course there is great meaning in this resolution for me at personal level as well, related to where I live, work, and seek personal satisfaction in my life. New Mexico, one of Arizona’s neighbors, is a majority-Hispanic state. But it’s not only the Hispanics in New Mexico that are hurt and embarrassed by this legislation; the hurt and embarrassment are felt across the entire state. As such, we as New Mexicans are concerned with the burdens of this legislation on our Arizona colleagues. I know this sentiment was strongly present at the meeting yesterday – we know our colleagues in Arizona are deeply distressed by this legislation, and we know how the national and international reaction to the law impacts them. I expect that our Arizona colleagues would very much like, perhaps even expect, that our association, NAFSA, stand up to what we all believe in. Passing this resolution will do this—it will show that we stand in solidarity with our Arizona colleagues, as well as with all others who believe in mutual respect, justice, fairness, and due process.