Princeton joins Supreme Court brief challenging administration immigration restrictions

Princeton and 30 other colleges and universities filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, March 30, in support of the State of Hawaii’s challenge to a federal proclamation on immigration.

The amicus curiae brief supports Hawaii’s challenge to a Trump administration proclamation that would bar or restrict individuals from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The list of targeted countries, which the administration altered in September, now includes Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

The Supreme Court brief reiterates arguments the universities made in their April 2017 brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit with respect to a predecessor executive order: The proclamation, like the related executive orders it replaced, threatens the universities’ ability to continue to attract the most talented people from around the globe.

The new brief notes that Princeton has about 50 students and employees from six of the affected countries, and that the Graduate School received about 150 applications for fall 2017 (and more than 700 applications in the past five years) from students from those nations.

President Christopher L. Eisgruber and Princeton — where individuals from outside the United States represent a significant portion of students, faculty and staff — have been active in advocating for immigrants in recent months.

In his annual letter to the University community in February, Eisgruber wrote:  "We will continue these efforts because we recognize that Princeton has depended since its inception, and depends today, on the talent and contributions of newcomers to this country. We are proud of the wide range of nationalities represented in our undergraduate and graduate student bodies, on our faculty, and on our staff."

Princeton and 16 other universities filed an amicus brief in February 2017, backing the plaintiffs in a federal civil action in which the attorney general of New York and others challenged the administration’s original January 2017 executive order on immigration and travel from several countries.

Eisgruber sent a letter to members of Congress in February, urging them to pass legislation that would provide legal status for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan living in the United States under Temporary Protected Status.

Eisgruber has also sent statements and appeals to Congress and President Trump urging other protection for immigrants, including beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In December, Eisgruber joined other college and university presidents and chancellors in becoming a founding member of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.