Former Government Officials, Tech Companies, and Colleges Take Trump’s Immigration Ban to Court

Keith Kissel/Flickr

After more than a week of protests against the federal ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, the fight against President Donald Trump’s executive order has moved to the courtroom.

Many colleges, universities, and higher education coalitions have already condemned the ban, citing its discriminatory nature and the numerous difficulties it has already caused for international students and scholars.

On Friday, a federal judge in Seattle suspended the ban after ruling that the Trump administration’s claim that the action was a matter of national defense has no precedent. While the suspension means that travelers from the seven countries were finally allowed to enter the U.S. beginning over the weekend, it is now up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to decide if the suspension will continue.

Top security experts, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, urged the court on Monday to rule against the ban, stating that it actually increases the threat of terrorism by strengthening the perception that the U.S. is anti-Islam.

A group of 97 top tech companies also issued a brief on Monday asking the court not to reinstate the ban. Employees from other countries, including those in the Middle East, are an invaluable source of top talent and innovation, the companies argued.

Their complaints largely mirror those made by many in higher education, where foreign scholars and students make up a large and important part of the academic community.

Beyond issuing statements denouncing the ban, some universities and students have also taken legal action. Several schools in the Boston area, including Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, filed a brief on Friday asking that Trump’s executive order be suspended in order to allow students and researchers from the seven banned countries to enter the state. The judge in that case ruled against repealing the ban; however, the federal suspension issued later on Friday rendered that decision moot.

Some students impacted by the ban have filed their own lawsuits against the Trump administration, while others are being represented in court by human rights organizations like the ACLU.

The U.S. Department of Justice was expected to issue a defense of the ban to the U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday, after which the court will rule on the measure. It is likely the case will then be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.