Six Princeton students and scholars who had been outside the country were among those affected by President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration, which stirred protests from students and faculty. Princeton joined with 16 other universities in filing a friend-of-the-court brief Feb. 13 in support of a legal challenge to the order.
The president’s order, which suspended entry for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries and placed limits on refugees, was blocked by a temporary restraining order in federal court. As of mid-February, some of the Princeton students and scholars had returned, University spokesman John Cramer said.
An additional 45 students and employees “are unable to, or discouraged from, leaving the U.S. because the Order may prevent them from returning,” the friend-of-the-court filing said, and a postdoc from Iran was unable to enter the United States after he was hired to work in the lab of a Princeton professor. The University also said about 150 students from the seven affected countries have applied for fall enrollment in the Graduate School.
Of about 200 Muslim students on campus, about 50 graduate students and three undergraduates come from the seven countries, according to Imam Sohaib Sultan, the Muslim chaplain. Sultan said there was a great concern among other international students who fear “their country might be next on the list.”
President Eisgruber ’83 and Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania and a former Princeton provost, drafted a letter Feb. 2 to Trump urging him to “rectify or rescind” the order. The letter, signed by 46 other college presidents, said the action “threatens both American higher education and the defining principles of our country.”
In an earlier statement, Eisgruber said Princeton was assisting students and scholars affected by the executive order as well as supporting legislative efforts to assist non-citizens. “Every single person on this campus has benefited from the ability of people to cross borders in search of learning or a better life,” Eisgruber said. He noted that his mother and her family came to the United States as refugees and would have died if they had been denied visas, and his father came to America as an exchange student.
In other responses to the order:
Many Princeton faculty members joined in a letter, signed by 62 Nobel laureates and more than 30,000 professors nationwide, that opposed the immigration ban.
A coalition of more than 20 student groups called Princeton Advocates for Justice announced plans for letter-writing and phone calls to members of Congress during an Immigration Day of Action Feb. 17.
The Muslim Life Program was planning a series of teach-ins for the campus community, for schoolteachers from around New Jersey, and for journalists to counter “misinformation about Islam,” Sultan said.
After the travel ban was announced, he said, support from other parts of the Princeton community “has been overwhelmingly positive — there is a very strong desire not only to stand in solidarity, but to mobilize.”