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31 U.S. Universities Add Voices to Travel Ban Lawsuit

  • Amanda Scott

A group of 31 U.S. colleges and universities filed an amicus brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court arguing that President Donald Trump’s travel ban was harmful to their mission.

The executive order — banning entry to people from six majority-Muslim countries and halting refugee admissions — has been temporarily suspended by several legal challenges.

In their brief, the universities say the executive orders prevent them from educating future world leaders, attracting the world’s best scholars, faculty, and students, and working across international borders.

“By prohibiting entry by persons from the six affected countries, the Executive Order divides current students and their families, impairs the ability of American universities to draw the finest international talent, and inhibits the free exchange of ideas,” it said.

It argues that enrolling and employing international students, faculty and scholars benefit not just the U.S., but the world.

“International students, faculty, and scholars make significant scientific, technological, social, and political contributions to the United States and the world, above and beyond the benefits to amici’s [the universities] campus communities.”

It quotes the Association of International Educators (NAFSA) which estimates that during the 2015-2016 academic year, international students contributed $32.8 billion to the United States economy and supported or contributed to the creation of 400,000 American jobs.

The brief says that “by prohibiting entry by persons from the six affected countries, the Executive Order divides current students and their families, impairs the ability of American universities to draw the finest international talent, and inhibits the free exchange of ideas.”

“International students, faculty, and scholars make significant contributions to amici’s [the universities] campuses. International diversity benefits amici by facilitating regular interactions between individuals from different cultures with varied life experiences.”

It adds that reducing the international presence on college campuses will diminish the academic experience in the United States.

“This diversity promotes the free exchange of ideas, encouraging individuals to consider issues from different perspectives and giving students and faculty a greater understanding of our global, pluralistic society,” the brief states adding that many schools are already experiencing the effects.

It says the University of Pennsylvania, one of the 31 schools which filed the brief, has three faculty recruits whose opportunities may be eliminated by the executive order. While at Princeton University, a postdoctoral fellow from Iran hired to work in a professor’s lab was prevented from entering the country after an earlier version of the order took effect.

The amicus brief is part of challenge to the federal case originating from the state of Maryland. Arguments are scheduled to begin on May 8.
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