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Northwestern joins leading research universities in amicus brief

University joins in opposition to executive order on immigration

Northwestern University has joined with 16 other leading research universities to file an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in a lawsuit opposing the executive order on immigration issued recently by President Donald Trump.

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The brief states that the executive order threatens the universities’ ability to attract students, faculty and scholars by prohibiting entry into the United States by residents of seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Noting that the order applies to individuals who have visas of the type most commonly used by students, faculty and scholars from around the world, the brief states, “While the Executive Order is currently limited to seven countries, its damaging effects have already been widely felt by American Universities.”

Northwestern joined in the amicus brief to support efforts to enable students, faculty and scholars to continue to study and conduct research in the U.S., said President Morton Schapiro. “Northwestern and other universities benefit greatly by bringing outstanding individuals from all over the world to study, teach and do research here,” he said. “It is important that universities continue to be able to do so.”

Along with Northwestern, the universities joining the supporting brief are Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, the Johns Hopkins University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

The New York lawsuit is one of several that have been filed in an effort to block enforcement of the executive order issued by President Trump last month. Enforcement currently has been delayed by a judge’s order in a lawsuit filed in Seattle that was subsequently upheld by the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court. The plaintiffs in the New York lawsuit are two Iraqi nationals who were denied entry to the United States on the basis of the executive order, despite having obtained visas based on past service to the United States and association with the U.S. military. The amicus brief filed today discusses the significant burdens the executive order also inflicts on students, faculty and scholars, as well as the substantial impediments it poses to universities’ ability to fulfill their educational mission. The New York court has entered a temporary restraining order until February 21, to preserve the status quo while the parties brief the various legal issues.

“While each amicus is located in the United States, amici’s missions and reach are truly global: they educate, employ, conduct research, and collaborate with students, faculty and scholars from all over the world — individuals who speak different languages, practice different religions and have wide-ranging life experiences that illuminate amici’s campuses and support their academic missions,” the brief states. “These international students, faculty and scholars make significant contributions to their fields of study and to campus life by bringing their unique perspectives and talents’ to amici’s classrooms, laboratories and performance spaces.”

Phil Harris, vice president and general counsel, said Northwestern joined the amicus brief because the University has a compelling interest in maintaining a diverse student body and a strong research effort. “International students and scholars are critically important to our mission as a global institution,” he said.