Yale, other schools to Supreme Court: President’s travel ban harms academia

Yale has joined 30 other universities and colleges in filing an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging an executive order issued this year by the Trump administration.

The executive order issued in March, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” reinstated a 90-day suspension of entry to the U.S. for nationals from six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It revoked and replaced an earlier executive order that had been successfully challenged in federal court as a “Muslim ban.” 

Recognizing the invaluable contributions of international students, faculty, and scholars, amici [the schools submitting the brief] make significant efforts to attract the most talented individuals from around the globe,” the schools state in the brief. “In light of their educational missions, amici are deeply interested in ensuring that individuals from around the globe can continue to enter the U.S. and share their unique skills and perspectives.” In supporting the challenges to the executive order before the Supreme Court, the schools say the executive order contradicts the values, including freedom of religion, that American colleges and universities tout as benefits of studying and working in the United States. They also explain that the executive order threatens their ability to attract scholars from around the world, noting that universities in other countries have used the travel ban to recruit international students, faculty, and scholars away from U.S. institutions. In addition, the schools state, large groups of scholars have threatened to boycott meetings and conferences hosted in the U.S. in response to the executive order.

The schools note that many international students who were admitted for the current academic year have chosen to pursue their education outside the U.S. because of the possibility that they might have been unable to secure a visa. “Upholding the Order will send the message that any country’s citizens may be unjustly targeted for exclusion and the Order’s negative effects will only worsen,” the schools state in their brief.

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled that the executive order’s restrictions could not be imposed on anyone who had “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” In their brief, however, the schools state that the court’s ruling did not resolve the uncertainty the executive order has introduced into potential collaborations with international students, faculty, and scholars.

Even in its more limited form, the Order harms American colleges and universities and should be invalidated,” the schools contend.

The schools say they could not maintain their world-renowned status without the continued safety and security of their campuses and the nation.

Amici, however, 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 foreign nationals to our campuses,” the schools maintain.

The schools’ brief is in response to an appeal to the Supreme Court by the U.S. Department of Justice of two lower court decisions. The Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in the cases, which have been consolidated. One case involves a claim made by the International Refugee Assistance Project, and the other involves a challenge brought by the State of Hawai’i.

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