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Northwestern opposes executive order restricting travel

University joined 30 other colleges and universities in amicus brief filed April 20

EVANSTON - Northwestern University has joined 30 other colleges and universities around the country in filing an amicus brief opposing President Donald Trump’s second executive order restricting travel.

Universities today greatly depend on the talents of students and scholars from around the globe to advance scholarship and enrich student learning, and the institutions already are feeling the order’s damaging effects, according to the brief.

The amicus brief was filed April 20 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case of State of Hawaii, et al., v. Donald J. Trump, et al.

The president’s second travel ban falls short on justifying the ban on affected individuals from the six specified countries while harming the ability of American universities to carry out their global missions, the brief concludes. 

Issued March 6, the president’s second executive order would suspend entry of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries into the United States for 90 days. The countries are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and the order would bar entry of affected individuals who seek the categories of visas most commonly relied upon by international students.

The president’s second executive order has been blocked from going into effect by orders of federal district court judges in Hawaii and Maryland. And the Trump administration is challenging those court orders in appeals to the Fourth and Ninth Circuits.

The universities “take extremely seriously the safety and security of their campuses and the nation,” the brief states. But they “believe that safety and security concerns can be addressed in a manner that is consistent with the values America has always stood for, including the free flow of ideas across borders and the welcoming of immigrants.”

Through established visa programs, the many international students, faculty and scholars who make American university campuses their homes have been thoroughly vetted by the U.S. using existing procedures, according to the brief.

Like the previous order, the second order threatens universities’ abilities to attract the best students, faculty, staff and scholars from around the world and hinders their goals of educating tomorrow’s leaders, the brief argues.

Other highlights from the April 20 amicus brief:

  • Even though the executive order is currently limited to six countries, American universities are already feeling its damaging effects. The order was issued in the same time period that universities sent some admissions offers to prospective international students. Because of their possible inability to obtain visas before the fall semester begins, many of the students may choose to pursue their education in other countries, rather than in the U.S.
  • The universities are experiencing the order’s costs absent any evidence that all or even an appreciable number of nationals from these six countries — all of whom the government already significantly vets before permitting them to study or work here — pose any threat to the safety or security of the U.S. campuses.
  • By one estimate, international students directly contributed $32.8 billion to the U.S. economy and supported or contributed to the creation of 400,000 American jobs in the 2015-16 academic year.
  •  Twenty-eight other studies suggest international students “inject hundreds of billions into the U.S. economy” and “support well over a million U.S. jobs.”
  •  By prohibiting entry by persons from the six affected countries, the 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.
  •  Faculty members from around the world already have called for a boycott of academic conferences in the U.S. in response to the executive order and its predecessor.

In February, Northwestern joined 16 other leading universities to oppose the first executive order restricting travel issued by President Trump. The 17 universities filed an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

On March 31, Northwestern also joined 30 other colleges and universities around the country in filing an amicus brief opposing President Trump’s second executive order in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit of Maryland.

Phil Harris, vice president and general counsel, said Northwestern joined the amicus briefs because “international students and scholars are critically important to our mission as a global institution.”

Along with Northwestern, the colleges and universities that joined the March 31 and April 20 amicus briefs are Boston University, Brandeis University, Brown University, Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Middlebury College, Northeastern University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University, Washington University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Yale University.

Topics: Law, Politics

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