Yale responds to Trump’s executive order on immigration

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The word "Solidarity" was projected onto the facade of Sterling Memorial Library during the protest. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

Legal injunctions, protests, and outreach to the campus’ international students and scholars are just some of the ways that Yale individuals and organizations have responded to the executive order by signed by President Donald Trump on Jan. 27 restricting the entry of individuals from seven countries into the United States.

Legal injunction

Early on the morning of Jan. 28, the Yale Law School’s Worker & Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic joined with a coalition of leading civil rights groups to file a petition on behalf of two Iraqi men who were being detained at JFK Airport, despite having valid documentation.

That petition prompted a federal judge in Brooklyn — District Court Judge Ann Donelly — to issue a nationwide temporary stay blocking the U.S. government from deporting people from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, declaring that the executive order is likely discriminatory, illegal, and unconstitutional.

For details about the litigation, see: Yale Law Clinic secures victory for detained immigrants.

Joining other educators in protest

On Jan. 29, President Peter Salovey announced in a campus-wide email that Yale joins with the Association of American Universities (AAU) in urging that “the administration’s new order barring the entry or return of individuals from certain countries … should end as quickly as possible.”

“We are alarmed by this executive order,” wrote Salovey, which he said  “departs from long-standing policies and practices in our country. All of us are worried for colleagues, friends, and family members who may be affected by these and other changes in immigration laws.

“American institutions of higher learning are united in their distress on behalf of our international students and faculty, and in their reliance on our communities’ most fundamental values of accessibility and open dialogue. Our educational mission and the welfare of our community members are directly at stake. National security is of the utmost importance, but we are steadfast in asserting that this goal can be achieved while maintaining respect for core academic—and American—values.”

There are more than 5,000 Yale international students and scholars from 118 countries, Salovey said: “They are part of the very lifeblood of this university. I reiterate here our commitment to the safety, well-being, and vital place at Yale of these international scholars and students, the members of our Muslim community more generally, and others who may be affected by Friday’s executive order. Not only do immigrant and international students and scholars contribute to our university, they contribute tremendously to our nation. Those who choose to stay bring new ideas, skills, energy, and cultures. Those who choose to return home foster goodwill toward the United States abroad. Today, we at Yale join our voices with all those who are calling for swift reversal of these measures that undermine our university’s — and our nation’s — core values.”

Outreach to Yale’s international community

Yale’s Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS), in consultation with legal counsel, has recommended that Yale students and scholars from the designated countries (including dual nationals and U.S. permanent residents) suspend plans for international travel unless they first consult with OISS or an immigration attorney. The staff in OISS also reached out to Yale students and scholars from the seven designated countries and will be hosting open meetings for the Yale community on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and Thursday, Feb. 2, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. More information is on the OISS website, which  will continue to be updated regularly.

“I know that a number of the deans also have reached out to their students and faculty, and that several gatherings of support are planned for this evening. I am grateful to see the many ways that our university community is coming together in response to this assault on our values,” Salovey said.

Expressing solidarity

On Sunday evening about 1,000 Yale students, staff, faculty, and New Haven community members filled the quad in front of Sterling Memorial Library for a vigil in support of affected members of the Yale community. Many carried candles, and the word “Solidarity” was projected onto the library’s façade.

The one-hour vigil was followed by a benefit concert in Battell Chapel for Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, which featured performances by the Yale Glee Club and other campus singing groups.

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