The presidents of Harvard, Boston University and 46 other colleges on Thursday sent a letter to President Trump urging him to “rectify or rescind” his executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries and refugees.
“If left in place, the order threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country,” the school presidents said in their letter, which was signed by Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust and BU president Robert A. Brown.
Additional signatories included Brown president Christina Paxson, Dartmouth president Philip J. Hanlon, Tufts president Anthony P. Monaco, and Brandeis president Ron Liebowitz.
The higher education leaders said Trump’s order “specifically prevents talented, law-abiding students and scholars from the affected regions from reaching our campuses. American higher education has benefited tremendously from this country’s long history of embracing immigrants from around the world.”
In addition, the letter said, the order “unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America’s best principles and greatest traditions. We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries.”
The Trump administration has faced a strong backlash from the order, which has prompted lawsuits and widespread protests across the country since it took effect on Jan. 27.
It halted all refugees from coming to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and prevented citizens of seven majority Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Syria — from entering for 90 days.
Trump has defended the order as a necessary measure to protect the nation from terrorism, saying in a recent statement that “we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border.”
In Thursday’s letter, the college presidents said they understood the need to protect national security.
“The vetting procedures already in place are rigorous,” they wrote. “Improvements to them should be based on evidence, calibrated to real risks, and consistent with constitutional principle. Throughout its history America has been a land of opportunity and a beacon of freedom in the world. ... This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country’s reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order.”