Today Yale and 16 other universities filed a friend-of-the-court (amicus curiae) brief to aid a federal district court’s review of the Trump administration’s “travel ban” executive order. The brief informs the court about the importance of international exchange in higher education and spells out the detrimental effects the executive order is having on students, faculty, scholars and staff of the universities filing the brief.
The brief notes that the amicus universities are global: They educate, employ, and collaborate with students, faculty, and scholars from around the world. International students, faculty, and scholars bring their unique perspectives to the universities, and they make significant scientific, technological, social, and political contributions to the United States and the world. Moreover, notes the brief, by studying in the United States, international students and scholars gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for the values of this country, including democratic principles, respect for the rule of law, and the values of tolerance and human rights, which they may then bring to their home countries. Over 4,000 international students and scholars call Yale home, including 11% of the undergraduate population and 20% of the overall student population. Ten percent of Yale’s faculty is international.
The brief explains that the executive order threatens the universities’ continuing ability to attract these individuals: By restricting travel of people from seven countries to and from the United States, the executive order divides students and their families, impedes universities’ ability to draw the finest international talent, and inhibits the free exchange of ideas. The brief affirms the vital importance of American safety and security, but urges that this interest be addressed through a policy that does not inflict such great burdens on law-abiding individuals, to the significant detriment of American higher education.
On Feb. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a temporary stay of the executive order. In its decision, the Ninth Circuit recognized that the teaching and research missions of universities in Washington State are harmed by the executive order because their students and faculty cannot travel for research, academic collaboration or for personal reasons, and the schools cannot attract student and faculty candidates from the several affected countries.
Yale and the 16 other amicus universities believe other courts reviewing the executive order similarly should take into account the harm that will result to higher education institutions and their students, faculty, scholars and staff if the Executive Order is allowed to be enforced.