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Law Clinicians, Faculty Sign Amicus Brief Against Executive Order

Four Harvard faculty members joined in filing an amicus brief in a federal appeals court Sunday night to support another legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s immigration order.

Over 200 law professors and clinicians signed the brief filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by Fatma Marouf, a Harvard Law School alumna and Director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Texas A&M; University School of Law.

The brief is the second signed by Harvard affiliates opposing the executive order in three days. Last week, Harvard signed an amicus brief in a Boston federal court challenging the order, which bars immigrants from seven predominantly-Muslim countries from entering the country for 90 days.

Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic Director Deborah E. Anker worked with Marouf— her former student—to draft the brief, and assistant director Sabrineh Ardalan helped compile signatures. Anker, Ardalan, Law School professor Bruce Hay, and School of Public Health professor Jacqueline Bhabha are all signatories.

The law professors and clinicians argue that their “first-hand” experience working with clients makes their perspectives relevant to the case. The executive order “creates a serious risk of irreparable harm to our clients, students, and colleagues who have nonimmigrant (temporary) visas at United States universities,” they charge.

The order initially prevented at least four Harvard affiliates from entering the country, and if enforced, it could jeopardize visas of over 100 Harvard students and scholars from the listed countries.

The brief asserts that the order would hinder universities’ ability to attract international students and scholars and jeopardize the funding schools receive from international affiliates. It also claims that the order violates due process, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Our goal was to really highlight the type of harm that international students and faculty face as a result of the ban on individuals from the seven countries, in terms of both the diversity of thought in academia, fear of traveling abroad for conferences, and students just worrying about their visas being revoked,” Marouf said in an interview.

Washington State originally brought the suit last week, arguing that Trump’s executive order caused harm to the state. Seattle federal judge James Robart issued a temporary injunction Friday evening blocking enforcement of the order nationwide—a ruling the Trump administration has challenged in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case will likely reach the Supreme Court.

The Justice Department filed an emergency motion to restore enforcement of the order Saturday, but the appellate court declined to grant that motion and imposed a Monday deadline for parties to submit briefs for further consideration. Marouf and those helping her at the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Law Clinic had just one day to compile their amicus brief.

Marouf contacted her alma mater’s clinic, which she said originally inspired her to become an immigration lawyer, and the group of immigration law clinicians circulated the brief for signatures Sunday.

“I was thinking of it as being a brief on behalf of immigration professors and clinicians because we’ve been very directly affected,” Marouf said. “But the interest among law professors was so great, and so many people wanted to have a voice in it, that we ended up widening it to law professors and clinicians more generally.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, a group of over 100 technology companies, and another group of law professors have also filed amicus briefs. Meanwhile, the state of Minnesota has joined Washington State as a plaintiff.

The appeals court will hear oral arguments in the case Tuesday, and the court’s ruling will determine whether the Seattle judge’s suspension of the order remains in place.

—Staff writer Claire E. Parker can be reached at claire.parker@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @ClaireParkerDC.

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