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As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, we take a look at how this issue connects to culture, business and families in the Northwest.Our region is home to a unique blend of immigrants who work in all parts of our economy — from high-tech to agriculture. This population already has a deeply-rooted history here. And its ranks are expanding rapidly.Proposals for comprehensive immigration reform address border security, employment verification, guest-worker programs and pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the US.

International students caught off guard by Trump's travel ban

Red Square, University of Washington campus
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC BY NC ND)/
Red Square, University of Washington campus

Universities in Washington state are scrambling to respond to President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

It bans some people from seven countries -- including Iraq and Syria -- from entering the United States for 90 days.

At the University of Washington, more than a dozen scholars and just under 100 international students are affected by Trump's travel ban.

People report feeling afraid, cut off from family back home, and in some instances stuck abroad.

Then there’s another chilling effect on academia.

"It really does have a dampening effect on faculty students and staff whom we know to have previously planned to attend international conferences and give presentations," said Jeff Riedinger, VP for global affairs at the University of Washington.

At Seattle Pacific University, fewer students are from the banned countries, but Nate Mouttet, vice president for enrollment management, says international students there are feeling in a state of limbo, wondering: 

"If this could happen now - what does this mean if I were to be traveling for research or study abroad?” he said. “Or if I am trying to come back into the country as someone who had a clear visa -- will I be detained and not allowed back in?"

At Washington State University more than 100 students are from the banned countries. 

Like other universities in this state, WSU is advising them to cancel all travel in or out of the United States for now. 

Year started with KUOW: 2004