On Feb. 2, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 and 47 other American college and university presidents sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to “rectify or rescind” his Jan. 27 executive order. The letter criticizing the order, which forbids entry into the United States by travelers from Iraq, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen for 90 days and from Syria indefinitely, was initially outlined by Eisgruber and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann. The executive order has been criticized by Democrats, such as California Senator Kamala Harris, as a “Muslim ban,” and was announced by Trump at a speech at the Pentagon, in which he said his ulterior goal was to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country and only admit those “who will support our country and love deeply our people.” His executive order also caps the entry of refugees into the country in 2017 at 50,000, much lower than the 110,000 refugees the Obama administration wanted to take in 2017.
The letter to Trump argues that “the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country,” as it “specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses.” The signatories assert that the ban is unjustly aimed at Muslim immigrants and that their campuses embrace “outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries.”
Moreover, the group of 48 argues that the executive order attacks the American dream of religious diversity and “[dims] the lamp of liberty and [stains] the country’s reputation.” The letter ends with an urge to “rectify the damage done by this order.”
The letter was signed by the presidents of all eight Ivy League schools and of every U.S. News and World Report “Top Ten” university, excluding the presidents of the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Signatories included alumni such as Tufts University President Anthony Monaco ’81, Cornell University President Hunter Rawlings GS ’70, University of Oregon President Michael Schill ’80, and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel ’79.
A few federal trial judges have blocked portions of the executive order, with U.S. District Judge James L. Robart issuing the widest-reaching temporary halt to the ban. At press time, the case is now in the hands of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, and the case seems likely to reach the Supreme Court.