“We write as presidents of leading American colleges and universities to urge you to rectify or rescind the recent executive order closing our country’s borders to immigrants and others from seven majority-Muslim countries and to refugees from throughout the world,” they wrote. “If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.”
The order, signed by Trump Jan. 27, prevents all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely, and immigrants from seven countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—for 90 days.
While the university presidents who signed Thursday’s letter wrote that they “recognize and respect the need to protect America’s security,” they argued that current vetting procedures are already sufficient, and “this action unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America’s best principles and greatest traditions.”
The presidents, including the leaders of every Ivy League institution, emphasized the positive contributions people from these countries have made to their universities and the United States more broadly.
“We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries,” they wrote. “Their vibrant contributions to our institutions and our country exemplify the value of the religious diversity that has been a hallmark of American freedom since this country’s founding.”
The ban sparked protests across the country, as hundreds of people found themselves barred from the country or their legal status within the country imperiled. At least four Harvard affiliates from the targeted countries have been unable to enter the United States; one of those affiliates, Samira Asgari, sued Trump in federal court Wednesday, arguing that she should be allowed to enter the country. In Cambridge, students and researchers raised concerns at a town hall event Wednesday about their ability to stay if their visas expire.
In a message to Harvard affiliates Sunday, Faust defended international affiliates and called on “the administration, the Congress, and the courts” to reconsider the order. She also outlined measures the University will take to support affiliates impacted by the ban, including providing legal counsel and lobbying the federal government.
—Staff writer Claire E. Parker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.