Higher ed groups denounce travel ban in Supreme Court amicus brief

The American Council on Education (ACE) and 29 other higher education associations — including the American Association of Community Colleges — submitted an amicus brief this week to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban refugees and immigrants from several majority-Muslim countries.

The travel ban executive order bars travel to the United States for 90 days for nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. According to the Institute of International Education, in 2015–16, approximately 15,400 students and 2,100 professors or researchers in the United States came from one of these six countries.

In June, the Supreme Court agreed to take up two rulings on the executive order from two Circuit courts of appeals. Oral arguments are scheduled for October 10.

In the interim, the justices have allowed parts of the executive order to take effect, but they did not take a stance on the larger constitutional questions concerning religious discrimination or presidential authority, deferring consideration of those issues to the fall, according to ACE.

“While recognizing the importance of a strong visa process to the nation’s security, the associations’ brief focuses on the importance to U.S. higher education and the country as a whole of maintaining a welcoming perception to international students and scholars, and the risks of deterring them from studying, teaching and researching in the United States,” ACE said.

Roughly one million international students who attend U.S. colleges and universities add to this country’s “intellectual and cultural vibrancy,” and they also yield an estimated economic impact of $32.8 billion and support 400,000 U.S. jobs, according to a recent report from NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

“Right now, there is a ‘global bidding war’ for talented international students, particularly in the STEM fields,” the groups wrote. “Foreign countries give substantial cash bonuses and other benefits to international scholars to entice them to leave the United States.”

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