Responding to Trump, Johns Hopkins president shares his family's refugee story - Baltimore


Responding to Trump, Johns Hopkins president shares his family’s refugee story

Ron Daniels said Trump's immigration ban stands in “unambiguous opposition to our country's long-cherished values and ideals.”

City Schools CEO Gregory Thornton, left, and JHU President Ron Daniels get a STEM lesson.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

In the week following President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking immigration from seven countries, Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels spoke out.

Following a weekend that drew protests across the country, including at BWI, Daniels penned a message to the university community. The leader of one of Baltimore’s anchor institutions said the order was in “unambiguous opposition to our country’s long-cherished values and ideals.”

Daniels wrote that the ban immediately impacted the Johns Hopkins community.

For the faculty member who was able to return to Johns Hopkins herself but faced the wrenching decision to leave her elderly Iranian parents behind, unexpectedly, after years of planning to be able to care for them here. For the PhD student met by a crowd of supportive demonstrators at Dulles airport, whose return to work was jeopardized despite his status as a green card holder, after visiting family in Iran.

Daniels also shared his own story. He is an immigrant from Canada, and became an American citizen just last year. His father and their family came to Canada as refugees from Poland just before the Nazis invaded.

Even more remarkable than the timing of their departure was the fact that my family was able to secure a visa from the Canadian government. As historian Irving Abella has shown, Canada admitted fewer than 5,000 Jewish refugees during the period 1933 to 1945. As was true of so many Jewish families, including my wife Joanne’s, by the end of the Second World War, the entirety of my father’s extensive family in Europe was destroyed.

Daniels said it was a time for the university community to show support for those directly impacted, and “redouble our commitment to discovery, open inquiry, and impact on society.”

“In this historic moment, when universities such as ours find our fundamental mission imperiled by an executive order that erodes our core values and the founding principles of the nation, we cannot stand by,” he said.


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