In Massachusetts, concern over ban lingers

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addressed a rally against President Donald Trump’s travel ban in January.
Steven Senne/Associated Press/File
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh addressed a rally against President Donald Trump’s travel ban in January.

President Trump’s travel ban will go into effect with significant exceptions carved out Monday by the Supreme Court, offering some measure of comfort to Massachusetts families, businesses, and academics who worried the measure was overly aggressive and improperly focused on Muslim-majority nations.

The ruling largely undid two lower courts’ decisions that had temporarily halted the ban.But the decision also said the government may not bar anyone with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” a distinction that some said makes the ban more friendly to those people and institutions who rely on immigration and travel.

“The broader context is that this is a bad policy,” said Tom Hopcroft, president and chief executive of the Mass. Technology Leadership Council. “He’s had a series of significant defeats on this bad policy, and one of them got walked back a little bit.”


Many in Massachusetts said they would watch carefully to see how Trump implements the policy, and some remained concerned that the ban would damage the reputation of the United States — and Massachusetts — as a place to work and study.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The Trump administration says the 90-day ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen is crucial to maintaining the nation’s security as it reviews screening procedures.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who filed briefs to support the plaintiffs in the cases now before the court, said she would continue fighting. She said the policy “undermines the rule of law and imposes serious harm on families, businesses, universities, and the medical community in Massachusetts and across the country.”

Governor Charlie Baker reaffirmed his opposition to the travel ban, which he said would have “dire consequences” for the state. He said he is pleased the court did not allow all aspects of the order to take effect.

“The good news . . . is many of the folks who come here for personal reasons, who come here to work, who come here to study, who come here for health care, who come here to serve as fellows at our great universities — it appears to us that those folks will continue to be able to travel freely to and from the United States, which is a great sign, and to and from the Commonwealth,” he said.


The governor added, “We do remain concerned, however, about some of the issues associated with refugee populations, and others who are seeking asylum.”

The region’s academic centers, including Harvard University, said their legal teams were studying the decision, but they reiterated that drawing from an international pool of students and faculty was crucial to their mission and helps to spur innovation, understanding, and scientific breakthroughs.

“We’re all about tapping the world’s best and brightest,” said Jigisha Patel, assistant general counsel at Northeastern University, which has more than 250 students from targeted countries. “We wouldn’t want to be seen as a country that’s not welcoming.”

For the 31 students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute who are from the targeted countries, the Supreme Court decision is a relief, said David Bunis, a senior vice president and general counsel. WPI was among several universities challenging the ban in court.

However, Bunis said, the ruling leaves many questions unanswered.


Will parents of these students be able to get a visa to visit their children? Can prospective students or scholars come for an interview, to check out the campus, or meet with potential colleagues?

Massachusetts’ large teaching hospitals, which employ and treat people from many countries, are still worried.

The Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association said it “remains concerned for the safe and unimpeded travel of international medical personnel and patients with new conditions given today’s ruling.”

Dr. Anne Klibanski, chief academic officer at Partners HealthCare, said she’s worried that the travel ban may dissuade talented people in other countries from coming to work or seeking medical treatment in the United States. Partners is the parent company of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

Many in the technology and entrepreneurship fields said they fear that the ban will drain a talent supply for which Massachusetts competes with the rest of the world.

Laura Krantz, Deirdre Fernandes, Priyanka Dayal McCluskey, and Robert Weisman of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Claire Parker contributed to this report. Material from the Associated Press was used. Andy Rosen can be reached at