Universities tell judge travel ban hurts schools, students

Vanderbilt University and 16 of the nation's other top universities have filed a joint Amicus Brief urging that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington's February 3 stay of the January 27 Executive Order regarding immigration and refugees be upheld.

The brief also was signed by Princeton University, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Stanford University, Vanderbilt University and Yale University.

Each university has "a global mission", and "derives immeasurable benefit" from contributions of worldwide faculty and students, the brief said. These individual statements emphasize the scholarly interests, but also allude to the importance of ideals such as free speech and equality, which are specifically mentioned in a number of the statements of interest. "And they are being experienced absent any evidence that amici's lawfully-present students, faculty, and scholars-all of whom have already undergone significant vetting by the government-pose any threat to the safety or security of the United States or amici's campuses".

Nassau Hall announced Monday that Princeton and 16 other peer schools had filed a friend of the court brief in a case challenging the order, in NY federal court.

The president last month put a temporary halt on travelers coming form Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia for 90 days, and sought to halt refugees into the United States for 120 days.

"Cornell University 'aims, through public service, to enhance the lives and livelihoods of [its] students, the people of NY and others around the world, '" the brief reads.

Critics of the order say the order is ban targets Muslims and is not American.

Cornell University Counsel James J. Mingle said: "This friend of the court brief, filed on behalf of 17 research universities including Cornell, acknowledges the strong national interest in careful vetting, but stresses that the executive order as now written is legally unwarranted and has a detrimental impact on many global students and faculty at Cornell and other campuses across our great country".

The learning institutions said Trump's order stranded talented, law-abiding scholars overseas after they left the United States to visit family, conduct field research and attend academic conferences, and it is forcing others to remain in the US for fear they might not be able to return.

In the introduction, Penn states that its "roots are in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy".

"These costs are significant and directly affect amici's ability to pursue their missions", the brief continues.

This brief, however, takes a wider-encompassing approach to the executive order, pointing out its impact on higher education as a whole.

  • Larry Hoffman