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ACE, Higher Education Groups Say the Trump Administration’s Third Travel Ban Threatens Colleges’ Ability to Attract International Students, Scholars

March 29, 2018

Supreme Court to Hear Case April 25

​ACE and 32 other higher education associations submitted an amicus brief today to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case examining President Trump's third attempt to ban refugees and immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries. 

The administration issued its first travel ban in January 2017, the week after the president’s inauguration, causing mass chaos in airports across the country and launching more than a year of legal back and forth over the issue. 

The Supreme Court planned to hear the second iteration of the travel ban in October 2017, but dropped its review after the administration issued travel ban 3.0 Sept. 24, 2017, by Presidential Proclamation 9645 (Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or other Public-Safety Threats). The high court agreed in January to take up the new and current ban, which places restrictions of varying degrees on entry to the United States from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. 

Although multiple courts have issued preliminary injunctions against travel ban 3.0, it is currently in full force and effect because the Supreme Court granted the government’s request for emergency stays of lower court injunctions pending further review. 

While recognizing the importance of a strong visa process to the nation’s security, the associations’ brief underscores that “[t]he Proclamation sends a clarion message of exclusion to millions around the globe that America’s doors are no longer open to foreign students, scholars, lecturers, and researchers.” It emphasizes the essentiality of the United States’ “deep commitment to ensuring the free flow of ideas and people that is critical to progress in a democratic society.” The brief focuses on the importance to U.S. higher education and the country as a whole of maintaining a welcoming perception for international students and scholars, and the risks of deterring them from studying, teaching, and researching in the United States.

The roughly one million international students that attend U.S. colleges and universities add to this country’s intellectual and cultural vibrancy, and they also yield an estimated economic impact of $36.9 billion and support 450,000 U.S. jobs, according to a recent report from NAFSA: Association of International Educators. 

As the associations note in their brief, the current travel ban triples down on the exclusionary message of travel bans one and two, and puts at risk the considerable benefits the country gains from international students, scholars, lecturers, and researchers. If not reversed, the ban promises to have detrimental effects on critical academic exchange by inhibiting the free cross-border exchange of ideas; dividing students and scholars from their families; and impairing the ability of American educational institutions to draw the finest international talent.

The Supreme Court will hear the case, Trump v. Hawaii, on April 25, the last oral argument day of the term.

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