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.
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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