Dozens of top American colleges deliver a searing letter to Trump for 'staining the country's reputation'

On Thursday, the presidents of 48 American colleges and universities delivered a searing letter to President Donald Trump taking aim at his executive order on immigration.

The letter, drafted by Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber and University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, and signed by 40 other college presidents read:

"This action unfairly targets seven predominantly Muslim countries in a manner inconsistent with America's best principles and greatest traditions. We welcome outstanding Muslim students and scholars from the United States and abroad, including the many who come from the seven affected countries...This executive order is dimming the lamp of liberty and staining the country's reputation. We respectfully urge you to rectify the damage done by this order."

Their words come amid backlash over an executive order that bars citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days, and bars all refugee immigration for 120 days. Opponents of the ban worry that the temporary travel ban will turn into a permanent ban.

"It really is a statement that felt very personal for me and also a statement about values that I think are defining for Princeton and other universities," Eisgruber told Business Insider.

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Business leaders react to Trump administration's travel ban
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Business leaders react to Trump administration's travel ban

Bill Ford and Mark Fields, executive chairman and CEO of Ford

"Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO

"Like many of you, I'm concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump ...

"These issues are personal for me even beyond my family. A few years ago, I taught a class at a local middle school where some of my best students were undocumented. They are our future too. We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here. I hope we find the courage and compassion to bring people together and make this world a better place for everyone." 

Read full statement here

REUTERS/Mariana Bazo/File Photo

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO

"The blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s challenges.

"Many people negatively affected by this policy are strong supporters of the US. They've done right,not wrong & don't deserve to be rejected." - Twitter

REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

Tim Cook, Apple CEO

"Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do." - Memo to employees

(Photo credit JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

"This executive order is one we do not support.

"We're a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years.... It's a distinctive competitive advantage for our country—one we should not weaken." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO

"Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all. Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity." - Facebook

REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files 

Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

"There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognized as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business. "

- Read full statement here

REUTERS/David Ryder (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and CEO of Twitter

"11% of Syrian immigrants to the U.S. are business owners, more than triple that of U.S.-born business owners" - Twitter

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

Mark Parker, Nike CEO

"Nike stands together against bigotry and any form of discrimination. Now more than ever, let’s stand up for our values and remain open and inclusive as a brand and as a company." 

- Read full statement here

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Brian Chesky, Airbnb founder

"Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected.

"Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing." - Twitter

REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola CEO

"Coca-Cola Co. is resolute in its commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion, and we do not support this travel ban or any policy that is contrary to our core values and beliefs." -e-mailed statement

REUTERS/Ruben Sprich 

Brian Moynihan, Bank of America CEO

"As a global company, we depend upon the diverse sources of talent that our teammates represent.

"In view of this, we are closely monitoring the recent refugee- and immigration-related executive order in the United States, and subsequent developments." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS HEADSHOT)

Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO

"Drivers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen and live in the U.S. but have left the country, will not be able to return for 90 days. This means they won't be able to earn money and support their families during this period." - Facebook

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia CEO

"I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game. The U.S. may be ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary." - Memo to employees

2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS TRAVEL)

Jeff Immelt, General Electric CEO

"These employees and customers are critical to our success and they are our friends and partners." - Memo to employees

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Trip Advisor CEO Stephen Kaufer

"We need to do more, not less, to help refugees. Trumps action was wrong on humanitarian grounds, legal grounds, and won't make us 'safer.' " - Twitter

(Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)

Salesforce CEO Vala Afshar

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO

"40% of Fortune 500 founded by immigrants or their children. All ethnicities should have access to opportunity -- founding principle of U.S." - Twitter

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff

"When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are---a light unto the nations. " - Twitter

(Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

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Eisgruber noted that there are more than 50 people at Princeton directly affected by the order, some of which are currently overseas and are having difficulty returning to the US. Many more are currently in the US, but worry that they will be unable to travel internationally to visit family.

Eisgruber, the son of immigrant parents, also spoke about how his family history also makes the issue one he finds extremely personal.

"My mother's family fled first from Germany and then from France — they were Jewish and they fled when the Nazis came to power — and they made it to this country in May of 1940," he said. "If we had a refugee ban in place in May of 1940 and my mother and her family had been turned away they almost certainly would have been murdered."

His father, too, come to the US as an immigrant, as an exchange student from Germany in 1950.

"When I look at these families that are being affected by this order I see my parents and I see the dreams and aspirations that they had the threats that they faced," he said.

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SEE ALSO: Every Ivy League school has weighed in on Trump's immigration ban — and they're worried

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