Vanderbilt, peer institutions file amicus brief opposing travel ban

Vanderbilt University and 16 of the nation’s other top universities have filed a joint Amicus Brief urging that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington’s Feb. 3 stay of the Jan. 27 Executive Order regarding immigration and refugees be upheld.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos (Vanderbilt University)

“Vanderbilt is a global university, deeply enriched by the presence and engagement of international students, scholars, faculty and researchers on our campus. We believe our competitiveness, and that of our nation, depends on the inclusion of diverse perspectives and backgrounds,” Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said. “We support the continued stay of the Jan. 27 Executive Order because we believe the order does material harm to our ability to attract and recruit the very best scholars from around the world. We also believe the order has the potential to reverse the great strides Vanderbilt has made in creating and nurturing a welcoming campus environment that reflects the global and diverse world that our students will enter upon graduation.”

The brief is being filed in pending litigation on the Executive Order in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In addition to Vanderbilt, the brief is being submitted jointly by Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.

In the brief, the signatory institutions wrote, “Each amicus has a global mission, and each derives immeasurable benefit from the contributions of diverse students, faculty and scholars from around the world. Because amici seek to educate future leaders from nearly every continent, attract the world’s best scholars, faculty and students, and work across international borders, they rely on the ability to welcome international students, faculty and scholars into their communities. The Executive Order at issue in this case threatens that ability, and creates significant hardship for amici’s valued international students, faculty, and scholars.”

Continued support of international research is also of concern to the signatory institutions.

“In addition to recruiting the best students, some of the most exciting research and discoveries taking place on our campus are fueled by partnerships with international researchers,” Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Susan R. Wente said. “These scholars must be able to travel freely to conduct their work and to continue our work together. We support policies that ensure safe and legal travel while maintaining the freedom of individuals to pursue their research, scholarship, art and discovery without fear of being detained or delayed.”

The university has signed multiple letters with peer institutions and higher education organizations and is providing support for current students, faculty and staff who may be affected by the Executive Order. A full listing of the university’s actions and information related to immigration and refugees is available on the Office of the Provost’s website.