VC statement on US travel restrictions

A statement by President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield Professor Sir Keith Burnett on the current US travel restrictions.

Statement on US travel restrictions

I'm sure that you will have seen the news over the weekend on the restrictions on travel to the United States of America established by an executive order by President Donald J Trump.

Walk for refugeesThere are few things more precious than freedom. And nothing more precious than a home safe from fear of death and oppression. The ban on travel has snatched the hope of such a sanctuary in the United States out of the hands and hearts of many people.

You may well be as deeply troubled as I am by this action.

I am troubled because I am sure that anything that restricts the movement of people on the basis of country of origin or religion alone is wrong. Wrong in all respects. It is wrong according to the principles of freedom that the United States has been rightly proud of, wrong as a practical way to protect the United States from attack and wrong I believe as a matter of the law.

But we shall now see how the argument for and against this ban works its way through the courts in the United States. And we shall see the separation of powers established in the written constitution of the United States being tested in just the way it has in the past.

There will be many who support the action by President Trump and see it as the only way to defend their country and we cannot dismiss their concerns. It is rather our duty to show why we believe this to be deeply counterproductive to the purposes of peace and freedom.

But how can we do that?

By telling the stories of all the people who have given so much to the places of refuge that gave them a home. We must try to convert fear of the faceless into appreciation of a real person's gifts to us.

Let's do that.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett CBE FRS FRSW
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield.