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Credit: Joy Lee

Given how opposed Penn students were to his candidacy in November, you wouldn’t expect President Donald Trump to be that popular on campus.

However, even in light of the near-constant protests his administration have provoked on campus and across the country, the faith some Penn students have in Trump's leadership hasn’t wavered.

In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Engineering and Wharton freshman Joseph Churilla defended two of Trump’s most divisive executive orders — limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations and constructing a wall on the southern border.

“Families getting split up is obviously never good,” Churilla said, referencing the detention of travelers at airports. “But it is a limited amount of time.”

“It is a negative consequence, but it’s temporary,” he added.

Churilla said the immigration order was potentially rolled out too abruptly, which he attributed to Trump’s lack of familiarity with policymaking.

College freshman Jesse Blanco said he found it difficult to empathize with immigrants, despite being a first-generation American himself.

“It’s very conflicting, and I’m sure a lot of people that support Trump feel the same way. We’re not cheering. We’re not celebrating that we’re banning all these people,” Blanco said. “But I do believe Donald Trump wants to put the American first.”

Some Trump-supporting Penn students say the immigration halt doesn’t go far enough.

“I would consider expanding it to other countries,” College sophomore Christian Petrillo said, “including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Petrillo added, “If someone is traveling back and forth from the United States to a country like Yemen, there should be a vetting system that questions people like that.”

Petrillo also claimed the order restricting immigrants is neither a Muslim ban nor racist.

“It’s very dangerous to inject race into this issue,” he said. 

Despite his parents’ affiliation as Democrats, Blanco — the son of Colombian immigrants who came to the United States in the 1990s — has interned in Trump Tower, calling the campaign experience “the highlight of [his] summer.”

Describing the wall as the cornerstone of Trump’s campaign, Blanco called it a symbolic representation — not of America’s hostility to immigrants, but of a dedication to ending crime.

“I think the wall should be built, and I think it’s going to be built,” Blanco said.

Petrillo agreed with the sentiment.

“You can’t really have true immigration reform until you stop the flood of people coming across the border,” Petrillo said.

Blanco, who identifies as an “'open-minded' social conservative," does harbor some concerns about the erratic nature of Trump’s policy shifts.

“As the President of the United States, every word that comes out of your mouth matters,” Blanco said. “Words can really open or close the ears of leaders around the world.”

“And if you’re acting like the traffic light of the world,” Blanco added, “you can cause a lot of accidents.”

Despite his support for Trump’s executive order banning federal funds from organizations that perform or promote abortions overseas, Churilla shares similar concerns.

“Trump’s personality is to just say things,” Churilla said. “And there’s no good excuse to lie to the public so blatantly.”

“But I’m staying optimistic,” Churilla added. “I like to stay optimistic.”