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Statement from Dean Ruger in response to Jan. 27 White House Executive Order on refugees, immigration

January 30, 2017

Penn Law Dean Ted Ruger affirms that “as a world-leading research and teaching institution, we must engage actively with students, attorneys, and policymakers from around the globe in order to prepare our students to be lawyers and leaders in an increasingly connected society and economy.”

On Friday, January 27, President Trump signed an Executive Order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, specifically Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, from entering the United States for 90 days, whether they are refugees or immigrants and whether or not they also hold dual citizenship with a nation not on the list.  Yesterday, you received communications from the central University of Pennsylvania about suggested travel planning in light of the Order and university-wide resources available. I write briefly to underscore a few points specific to the Law School community.
 
First and foremost, I regard the categorical nature of the Order as antithetical to Penn Law’s mission and values. As a world-leading research and teaching institution, we must engage actively with students, attorneys, and policymakers from around the globe in order to prepare our students to be lawyers and leaders in an increasingly connected society and economy.   
 
The Order’s negative impacts are not merely theoretical. Each year, Penn Law welcomes students from over 30 countries into our LLM and JD programs, and hosts dozens of visits from scholars, government officials, and attorneys from other nations. We are at present considering applicants from several of the seven countries listed in the order, whose ability to join our intellectual community, should we make them an offer of admission, is now in doubt. In addition, we have a Penn Law conference planned for March 2017 that is comprised of several eminent attendees from countries covered by the Order, some of whom may not be able to travel to participate. These restrictions will stifle the intellectual discourse to which we aspire.
 
I am proud of our tradition of global engagement, and of the diverse community of students, faculty, and staff that comprises Penn Law. I am committed to maintaining the intellectual culture we have built and to protecting the interests of this institution and of any individuals in our community adversely impacted by the Order.
 
I am keenly aware that this Order and the myriad legal uncertainties created by it are of grave concern to members of our community and their families. Here is how Penn Law is responding today:

  • In addition to the resources available at the central University, I encourage any students who have questions about the Order and its potential impacts to contact Dean of Students Monica Monroe at monroe2@law.upenn.edu.
  • Many in our community are engaged in pro bono legal support for refugees and immigrants impacted by the Order and related policies. In the coming days, the Toll Public Interest Center will provide information for interested students.
  • The Dean’s office is in the process of organizing and scheduling a policy discussion on this and related topics for the entire community.
  • The Penn Law homepage will be updated frequently with information about student- and faculty-led activities related to this Executive Order.

Thank you for your continued engagement in our Penn Law community.

Ted Ruger
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law