Dear members of the Stanford community,

We write to address questions and mounting concerns in our community and elsewhere for the welfare of immigrants, and for the effect on the global academic community, following the executive order issued Friday imposing new federal travel restrictions. We want to provide the latest information about what is occurring and how Stanford is responding.

We also want to use the opportunity to reiterate our community values. As an academic institution with students and scholars from around the world, Stanford values and in fact depends upon the flow of students, educators and researchers across borders. National security and counterterrorism considerations are of course vital to effective immigration policy. But the current situation is causing deeply regrettable alarm and uncertainty for many people who are part of the academic community here in the United States.

As background, the new federal administration issued an executive order on Friday that, among other things, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days and also barred entry for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. News reports have indicated that individuals from those countries who hold green cards will need case-by-case waivers to return to the United States following travel.

Since news of a draft of the executive order began circulating last week, Stanford has been contacting members of our community who are from these countries to provide information and support, and to engage with concerned student groups. The Bechtel International Center, Office of International Affairs, Student Affairs and many other campus organizations have been working on these efforts and will continue to do so.

The university is encouraging members of our community who may be impacted by the executive order to postpone international travel for the time being. In addition, recognizing the concerns of students and scholars from other countries not addressed in the current executive order, we are working to develop broader travel guidance that will be issued in the coming week.

Advisers are available at the Bechtel International Center to support those who have questions or need assistance. In addition, a gathering is being planned for next week at Stanford Law School, bringing together immigration law experts and others to provide additional information and to reaffirm our support for one another as a community.

We are quite concerned about the experience of one of our students upon returning to the United States from Sudan late Friday. This graduate student, a legal permanent resident of the United States, was detained for several hours at Kennedy International Airport, and handcuffed briefly, upon trying to return from a research trip. While thankfully she was released, we are enormously concerned about the anguish this episode caused our student and her family, and what it may suggest for others in similar situations. An unfortunate consequence of the new policy appears to be that students and scholars from designated countries are, for the moment, effectively detainees in this country.

The Association of American Universities, of which Stanford is a part, issued a statement on Saturday that we are including below. It, too, reflects our concerns and priorities.

While we work in the short term to provide support and assistance to members of our campus community, over the medium and longer term we will continue to work with AAU and other national partners on strategies for helping to shape visa and immigration policies in ways consistent with our shared values.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, John Etchemendy and Persis Drell

Statement by Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman:

We recognize the importance of a strong visa process to our nation’s security. However, the Administration’s new order barring the entry or return of individuals from certain countries is already causing damage and should end as quickly as possible. The order is stranding students who have been approved to study here and are trying to get back to campus, and threatens to disrupt the education and research of many others.

We also urge the Administration, as soon as possible, to make clear to the world that the United States continues to welcome the most talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship at our universities. It is vital to our economy and the national interest that we continue to attract the best students, scientists, engineers, and scholars. That is why we have worked closely with previous administrations, especially in the wake of 9/11, to ensure our visa system prevents entry by those who wish to harm us, while maintaining the inflow of talent that has contributed so much to our nation.

Other countries have set the goal of surpassing the United States as the global leader in higher education, research, and innovation. Allowing them to replace this country as the prime destination for the most talented students and researchers would cause irreparable damage, and help them to achieve their goal of global leadership.