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University of Arizona tells all international students, scholars to postpone travel

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PHOENIX — The University of Arizona announced Monday that it has recommended all international students and scholars postpone any overseas travel until President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries is clarified.

In a press release, university President Ann Weaver Hart said the decision was made to ask people to delay their trips after the school received reports that students and scholars at other universities were not permitted to re-enter the U.S. after the ban went into effect.

“We have also heard from University of Arizona students who are afraid to travel abroad, despite the legality of their visas, and we are deeply concerned for the well-being and treatment of our foreign students, scholars, researchers and professors,” Weaver Hart wrote in the release.

Trump signed the executive order on Friday. It bans travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

Weaver Hart said the school opposes the travel ban but believes lawsuits against it will be victorious. The Association of American Universities, which represents 62 schools, urged Trump to reverse the order and said it will only steer top scholars to countries that compete with the United States.

UA said it is working to identify overseas students who may be affected by the ban and may need assitance.

Trump spent the weekend defending the policy amid backlash at home and around the world. He said only 109 out of hundreds of thousands had been detained.

At home, besides demonstrations at airports, including Phoenix Sky Harbor, several Republican senators spoke out against the order and Democratic senators were expected to introduce a bill to overturn the order.

Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina criticized the action. Flake called it “unacceptable” in an online post and McCain and Graham released a joint statement saying “Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism.”

Two Iraqi lawmakers said their parliament had approved a “reciprocity measure” restricting the entry of Americans into Iraq.

Trump’s order doesn’t address homegrown extremists already here, which is a concern for federal law enforcement. Nor does the list of countries include Saudi Arabia, where most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from.

In a background call with reporters Sunday, a senior administration official declared the order’s implementation “a massive success story,” claiming it had been done “seamlessly and with extraordinary professionalism.”

Yet there appeared to be widespread confusion among authorities how it would be applied to certain groups, such as U.S. legal permanent residents.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a statement Sunday saying that, absent information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, residency would be a “dispositive factor in our case-by-case determination.”

That means citizens of the seven countries who hold permanent U.S. residency green cards will not be barred from re-entering the U.S., as officials had previously said, but they will face some kind of additional screening.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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