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BU to Supreme Court: Kill Trump Travel Ban

Joins 30 other academic institutions in friends of the court brief


For the third time this year, BU and other universities have gone to court—this time, the highest court in the country—to oppose President Trump’s travel ban on six predominantly Muslim nations.

Yesterday, the University joined 30 other institutions (among them all 8 Ivy League schools and many fellow members of the Association of American Universities) asking the Supreme Court to uphold lower court rulings invalidating the ban. The justices are scheduled to hear the case October 10.

In an amici curiae (friends of the court) brief, the universities say that however the justices rule, the ban already has done damage to US schools.

Trump’s executive order imposing the ban “was issued around the same time amici were sending admissions offers to prospective international students. Against the possibility that they might not obtain visas before the start of the fall semester, many of these admitted students may have chosen to pursue their education in other countries,” the brief reads.

The order “impairs amici’s ability to attract talented individuals from around the globe and so to meet their goals of educating tomorrow’s leaders,” it says.

After lower courts ruled against the ban, the Supreme Court tentatively OK’d some restrictions in advance of next month’s case. In particular, the high court has allowed the government to bar refugees who have made arrangements with resettlement agencies in the United States.

The justices said the ban could not apply to people with a “bona fide relationship” to the United States, such as enrollment at a university. But the brief says the “bona fide” standard muddies whether certain academic collaborations are permissible. One example: the status of international scholars at the signatory schools could be called into question if the standard remains, the brief says.

Trump has argued for the ban as a way to buy time while his administration reviews entry requirements to protect the nation against terrorism. The brief’s signatories say they “take seriously the safety and security of their campuses and the nation: if amici’s campuses were not safe, or the towns and cities in which they are located were not secure, amici could not maintain their world-renowned learning environments.

“Amici, however, believe that safety and security concerns can be addressed in 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 foreign nationals to our campuses.”

Trump’s travel ban, revised in March from an earlier, stricter version signed in January, puts a 90-day ban on immigration into the country for citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. It bans for 120 days refugees from those countries.

Opponents have said entry vetting already is rigorous. They cite Trump’s campaign statements last year to argue that he intends to discriminate, unconstitutionally, against Muslims. Since the 9/11 attacks, no terrorism has been committed on American soil by citizens of the six nations falling under the ban.

“We continue to be deeply concerned about the effect of the executive order on our ability to attract students, faculty, and scholars from the six affected countries and around the world,” says Erika Geetter, BU vice president and general counsel. “It is important for the court to understand the key role played by international students, faculty, and scholars in strengthening the research at US academic institutions, and the way in which these individuals contribute to the diversity, inclusion, and tolerance that is critical to our educational mission.”

Besides Boston University, other signatories of the amici curiae brief from Massachusetts include: Harvard, Brandeis, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Rich Barlow, Senior Writer, BU Today, Bostonia, Boston University
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

10 Comments on BU to Supreme Court: Kill Trump Travel Ban

  • John Whalen on 09.19.2017 at 5:43 am

    So you are wasting student’s tuition dollars trying to promote your leftist agenda rather than educating students. What is your purpose? Not only that but you want to waste my money too. What job is a migrant from Syria going to get? Keep in mind they mostly won’t speak English. Are you elitists going to pay? The most ridiculous part is your self important mentality thinking you can influence supreme court decisions.

    • Danielle Sauvé on 09.19.2017 at 8:56 am

      I am proud that BU is engaging in this opposition movement agains the ban. I teach to a very internationnal crowd and I believe that BU is on the right path in fostering opportunities to collaborate and learn from scolars from abroad including from the predominently muslim countries covered by the ban. There is so much to learn from that exposure.
      Just to answer the precedant post, as a lecturer, I never had difficulties to communicate with my internationnal students and it is not of us to judge of their carreer ambitions and future but to support them in as scolars.
      It is well known that this is profitable for colleges to recruit Internationnal students and that the ban may hurt economically. Those students bring more revenues then expenses to schools and their communities as exposed in several studies and articles. (see Business Insiders, NAFSA study).

    • King on 09.19.2017 at 9:51 am

      John, You are totally wrong. If you ever had an interaction with these people who were banned, you’d never say so and you wouldn’t be so biased. I am one of those whose wife fell under this nonsense ban. I have educated thousands of American kids, some of them might have been yours. I am working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, yes: 7/24, in US hospitals and science institutes to find a cure for cancers that might affect you, your parents, or your friends (I hope none occurs to you or your relatives). This nonsense ban has only disrupted the lives of people like me, who were asked by the US government to stay in this country to help and educate the American people. Wake up John.

    • International Alumna on 09.19.2017 at 11:58 am

      Don’t be such a ding dong, John, it’s unbecoming

  • Richard on 09.19.2017 at 9:19 am

    Yes, I am sure that SCOTUS will listen to BU and not the law.

  • Elisabeth on 09.19.2017 at 10:29 am

    John, I’m not going to debate politics with you, but I did want to respond to just a couple points you made.
    1.”What is your purpose?” I think the article makes pretty clear that the purpose for BU and other like institutions is to be able to keep accepting international students. Specifically, BU says the ban has already caused admissions trouble and forced admitted international to go elsewhere.
    2. You mention “wasting student’s tuition dollars”. I just wanted to add that international students pay tuition money too.
    3. On the matter of whether BU can “influence Supreme Court decisions”. Amicus curiae briefs are filed all the time. Their purpose is to bring a relevant point to the attention of the court, specifically a point which the main parties involved might not have made. In this case, the point seems to be the effect of the ban on academic institutions. While it is impossible to say with certainty that an amicus brief will alter the decisions of the justices, it is an established practice in the legal field so there is likely an effect.

  • Ari on 09.19.2017 at 1:45 pm

    Just who is BU representing in this amicus brief? Did the faculty or students vote to adopt this position?

    • Dan on 09.21.2017 at 9:19 am

      BU is representing international students connected or potentially connected with the university who may be affected by this potentially unlawfully discriminatory ban. As for why BU is actively doing this- it’s because I asked nicely, and I’m more important than you. :)

  • Richard Chappo on 06.29.2018 at 11:08 am

    John Whalen you are absolutely correct. One, it’s a waste of funds that could be used for the students or to lower the very high tuition. Two, BU should not take political stands, it should be free of political influence and indoctrination. Three, BU’s argument is misleading; this is not a ban on Muslims, but a ban on countries whose people cannot be properly vetted due to a lack of reliable information, coupled with the fact that all of these countries are exporting terrorism. American security must come first.

  • Richard Chappo on 06.29.2018 at 11:10 am

    If BU is going to going to play politics then at least publish differing views. Please be balanced.

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