Princeton University president issues statement on immigration executive order

Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber issued a statement this afternoon affirming the school’s commitment to help foreign students and scholars and protect their privacy in the wake of a new executive order on immigration signed by President Trump on Friday. A small number of students and scholars at the Ivy League school who are currently traveling during the school break are affected by the new policy, he said.

The university endorses a statement of concern issued by the Association of American Universities about the executive order that halted the U.S. refugee program for 120 days, indefinitely bans Syrian refugees, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country.

Sixteen state attorneys general have said the order is unconstitutional. Several federal judges have temporarily halted the deportation of visa holders.

“Many of you have written to express concerns about the recent federal executive order barring entry to the United States for refugees and for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.  I share those concerns,” Eisgruber wrote. “Since its early days, when the College of New Jersey recruited a transformative president from Scotland, this University has depended on America’s ability to attract and engage with talented people from around the world. Princeton today benefits tremendously from the presence of extraordinary individuals of diverse nationalities and faiths, and we will support them vigorously.”

The school has taken steps to assist students and scholars who are affected by the executive order, including a small number who are currently traveling abroad and face difficulties returning to the United States, Eisgruber said. Staff members are working around the clock to assess the full impact of the order and to aid and counsel members of the Princeton University community, including those who are currently outside the United States, he said.

“The legal implications of the executive order have been evolving rapidly.  My colleagues in the university administration will continue to monitor developments and identify appropriate ways to assist affected individuals,” Eisgruber said, noting that the school has policies in place to protect the privacy of every member of the University community.  “We do not disclose private information about our students, faculty, or staff to law enforcement officers unless we are presented with a valid subpoena or comparably binding requirement,” he said.

Princeton University is supporting legislative efforts to assist non-citizens, including the BRIDGE Act that would extend protection for students covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.  The school has had a consistent history of advocating for foreign scholars and students to come to the United States, Eisgruber said.

“Princeton’s position on immigration policy issues reflects our conviction that every single person on this campus has benefited from the ability of people to cross borders in search of learning or a better life.  That is emphatically true for me,” he said. “My mother and her family arrived in this country as refugees escaping from a war-torn continent. They would have perished had they been denied visas. My father first came to America as an exchange student from a country that had recently been at war with the United States, and he then studied at Purdue University as a foreign graduate student.”

Immigration has been a source of creativity and strength for the United States throughout its history, Eisgruber said.

“It is indispensable to the mission and the excellence of America’s universities, which enhance this country’s economy, security, and well-being through the students they educate and the ideas they generate,” he said. “Princeton will continue supporting students, faculty, and staff of all nationalities and faiths, and we will continue making the case for policies that simultaneously respect this nation’s legitimate security interests and allow for the free and vital movement of students and scholars across borders.”

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