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AAU Files Amicus Brief in Travel Ban Case Detailing Impact of Travel Ban On Universities, Students, Faculty


Brief by Research University Association Describes Harm to Universities, Students, and Faculty, as well as to U.S. Higher Education and Innovation

The Association of American Universities (AAU) today filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of Darweesh v. Trump that details the impact of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from seven countries on universities and their students and faculty, and on higher education and research nationwide. AAU estimates that its 60 U.S. universities may have as many as 10,000 students and faculty from the seven affected countries.

“During the past three weeks,” the brief says, “AAU members have seen their law-abiding students stranded abroad, and their law-abiding faculty members prevented from travelling to and from foreign countries...[P]otential recruits have expressed serious doubts about teaching at and attending AAU schools.

“These consequences directly threaten the ability of AAU’s member universities to fulfill their commitments to serving their students, their communities, the United States, and the world through their innovative teaching and research.”

The executive order, the brief states, “impairs the cross-border exchange of ideas that is critical to our members’ success as educational institutions—and the ability of our members to contribute to the success of the country as a whole.”

The Darweesh case is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Although the case does not directly involve students or universities, the plaintiff seeks broad relief that would also aid students and others at U.S. universities.

AAU will consider filing similar briefs in other cases relating to the travel ban.

The AAU brief makes clear that AAU has worked closely with the federal government to ensure that the government can screen out individuals who are a threat to U.S. security.

“The AAU…is committed to the security of its members’ campuses and the United States,” the brief emphasizes. “Each member university places the highest priority on the safety of its students and scholars…”

The brief cites a January 28 statement by AAU president Mary Sue Coleman, in which she said that the AAU recognizes “the importance of a strong visa process to our nation’s security…That is why we have worked closely with previous administrations, especially in the wake of 9/11, to ensure our visa system prevents entry by those who wish to harm us, while maintaining the inflow of talent that has contributed so much to our nation.”

AAU’s U.S. universities collectively educate and employ more than 300,000 international students and nearly 75,000 faculty members from other countries. In 2015, AAU universities hosted more than one-third of international students in the United States, and all of them have students or faculty from at least one of the seven affected countries.

The brief highlights a number of specific students and faculty from the affected countries who were prevented from entering the country while the ban was in effect. It also cites several leading faculty from the affected countries, such as an Iranian mathematician who was the first woman to win the Fields Prize, the most prestigious prize in mathematics, as well as the overall benefits of international exchange not only to American higher education but also to the U.S. economy.

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Founded in 1900, the Association of American Universities comprises 62 distinguished institutions that continually advance society through education, research, and discovery. Our universities earn the majority of competitively awarded federal funding for academic research, are improving human life and wellbeing through research, and are educating tomorrow’s visionary leaders and global citizens. AAU members collectively help shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation; promote best practices in undergraduate and graduate education; and strengthen the contributions of research universities to society.

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