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U. files second amicus brief in response to revised immigration ban

U. part of 31 universities challenging revised executive order in an amicus brief

The University and 30 other American colleges and universities filed an amicus brief against President Trump’s revised executive order on immigration Friday. The order, which temporarily bans entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii last month and could be reconsidered by the U.S. Court of Appeals in May, according to a Mar. 27 Politico report.

The brief  — a legal document submitted by non-participating parties — argues that the order obstructs the institutions' missions, deters scholars from studying in the United States and sets a dangerous precedent for discrimination. 

The institutions argue that because they aim to “attract the world’s best scholars, faculty, and students and work across international borders, … (they) have a strong interest in ensuring that individuals from around the globe can continue to enter the United States,” according to the brief. Universities contend that the new order threatens their ability to continue attracting premier scholars and “their goals of educating tomorrow’s leaders.”

Measures intended to promote safety and security ought to follow “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 immigrants to our universities,” according to the brief.

Modeled after an earlier amicus brief Brown and other universities filed against the original executive order Feb. 13, the current brief reiterates the significant economic and academic contributions international students, faculty and scholars make to their respective fields of study and to the United States. Brown has over 20 students and scholars from countries banned by the order and counts 3 percent of its faculty as international, according to the brief.

The institutions also point out that the executive order falls at a critical time for American universities, many of which have just issued admission letters for their new undergraduate and graduate student classes, giving international students a short window of time to decide whether they will attend university in the United States. Twelve percent of Brown’s admitted students to the class of 2021 come from outside the United States, The Herald previously reported.

With the executive order “arbitrarily excluding persons … and contemplating further categorical entry bans based on national origin,” universities fear that international students, will be deterred from seeking higher education in the United States, according to the brief.

During her recent trip to Hong Kong, President Christina Paxson P’19 told CNBC that Trump’s policies are “sending out a message to the world that international students may not be welcome in the U.S. … I think it’s very important for presidents, like me, to get out there and say that at Brown University, we want international students. They’re vital to what we do,” according to a University press release.

Though the ban has been temporarily suspended, the universities assert that the order has already had “serious and chilling implications for … students, faculty and scholars.” The universities recognized that while the new executive order does not “prematurely cancel student visas,” the separation of students from their families has been traumatic, and others hesitate to leave the United States because they “fear their re-entry may be barred,” according to the brief. Students at Brown have already faced such complications and uncertainty because of the original executive order, The Herald previously reported.

The University has “offered access to immigration and legal advising” and housing to affected students over breaks in addition to virtual learning opportunities for students stranded abroad, according to a University press release.

"One of Brown’s greatest strengths is our diverse, global community, and it is critical that we do all that we can to ensure that we are able to continue to attract exceptional students and scholars from all nations," wrote Provost Richard Locke in an email to The Herald. "The recent travel bans present unacceptable obstacles that hinder our capacity to fulfill our mission, and through this amicus brief and the other steps we are taking we are making our position known and seeking to affect change.”

Brown filed the brief alongside the seven other Ivy League schools in addition to Boston University, Brandeis University, Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western Reserve University, Duke University, Emory University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Middlebury College, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, Rice University, Stanford University, Tufts University, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University, Washington University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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