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Harvard Challenges Trump’s Executive Order in Amicus Brief

Massachusetts Hall, the home of Harvard's central administration.
Massachusetts Hall, the home of Harvard's central administration. By The Crimson Staff
By Hannah Natanson and Leah S. Yared, Crimson Staff Writers

UPDATED: February 3, 2017 at 5:34 p.m.

Harvard has joined seven other higher education institutions in filing an amicus brief challenging President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

In the brief, filed Friday morning, Harvard and the other universities—Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute—argue that the ability of students and scholars to travel across borders is essential to their educational mission.

“It is essential that our commitments to national security not unduly stifle the free flow of ideas and people that are critical to progress in a democratic society,” the brief reads. The filing argues that Trump’s order “undermines the values and contributions of open academic exchange and collaboration.”

The schools are filing as amici in an existing suit against Trump filed Saturday by two Iranian engineering professors at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth who were detained at Logan Airport in Boston the weekend after Trump’s executive order took effect. The lawsuit lists Trump and the United States Department of Homeland Security among its respondents.

The state of Massachusetts numbers among the other parties that have joined the suit.

Harvard is home to 49 students and 62 scholars who have non-immigrant visas from the seven countries targeted by the executive order, according to the brief.

Robert W. Iuliano ’83, Harvard's general counsel and senior vice president, wrote in an emailed statement Friday that Harvard chose to add its name to the brief because it is “important to have our voice heard” on the detrimental effects of Trump’s immigration suspension in Massachusetts.

“The brief provides concrete illustrations of the importance of international students and scholars to our mission and the tangible consequences of the executive order on members of our community and to Harvard as whole,” he wrote.

Trump’s executive order, which Trump signed Jan. 27, suspends immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations for 90 days and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. To date, at least four Harvard affiliates have been prevented from entering the country due to Trump’s new policy.

—Check for more updates.

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