GW Joins Amicus Brief Opposing Executive Order Travel Ban

Thirty-one universities join in brief emphasizing crucial role of international students, faculty and staff at institutions of higher education.

March 31, 2017


The George Washington University joined 30 other universities in filing an amicus brief challenging the Trump administration’s revised executive order on travel and immigration.

Other signees included Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Stanford universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“While each [university] is located in the United States, [the universities’] missions and reach are truly global: they educate, employ, conduct research, and collaborate with students, faculty, and scholars from all over the world,” the parties wrote in the brief. “The executive order at issue here, like its predecessor, threatens [the universities’] ability…to meet their goals of educating tomorrow’s leaders.”

President Donald Trump’s order, announced March 6, proposed to suspend entry into the United States from six Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Two federal courts have temporarily blocked the ban, and the Fourth Circuit is one among several appeals courts that will hear the administration’s appeal of that block.

An amicus brief is a document filed in appellate court by non-litigants who have a strong interest in the case at issue and provide arguments or information that the court may wish to consider.

In this case, the parties argued, the executive order harms American universities because of the vital role played on campus by international students, faculty and scholars.

International students and scholars “make significant contributions to their fields of study and to campus life by bringing their unique perspectives and talents to…classrooms, laboratories, and performance spaces,” the parties wrote. “[They] also contribute to the United States and the world more generally by making scientific discoveries, starting businesses, and creating works of literature and art that redound to the benefit of others far beyond [college] campuses.

“So too, by studying in the United States, they gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for the values we hold dear, including democratic principles and respect for the rule of law, tolerance, and human rights, values which they may then share with citizens of their home countries.”

Institutions of learning, they wrote, already host a significant number of citizens of other nations—some of whom have already been affected by the ban. And schools must be able to attract “individuals who speak different languages, practice different religions, and have wide-ranging life experiences that illuminate [university] campuses and support their academic missions.”

The Fourth Circuit will hear oral arguments on the appeal in May. Read the full brief.