In Response to the US Government’s New Travel Restrictions on Six Nations

February 03, 2020

Dear Columbia community,

The U.S. government on Friday announced new restrictions on immigration to the United States by people from Nigeria, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Sudan and Tanzania, all nations with substantial Muslim populations. Student visas and other non-immigrant travel remain unaffected. Still, as an educational institution committed to the free exchange of ideas irrespective of national boundaries, bans on immigrants because of their nationality are deeply concerning. 

Columbia’s mission underscores that a diverse and international faculty and student body is fundamental to the success of our learning and research environment. Indeed, our students and scholars from across the world play an essential role in making Columbia a global institution at the center of new ideas, information and innovation. 

The new order, which takes effect on February 22, cuts against this commitment. It brings the total to 13 nations facing immigration restrictions here (including Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Venezuela and North Korea). 

Singling out nations in this way also harms individuals, damages America’s leadership in higher education and defies our nation’s founding principles, as President Lee C. Bollinger wrote in response to the federal government’s 2017 order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations. Since that time, the University has joined amicus briefs, statements and letters opposing the ban. 

Although international students and scholars currently in the U.S. are not affected by the new restrictions, if you are a student, visiting scholar or community member from one of the affected countries, we urge you to contact our International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) before making travel plans.

We know that these are trying times for many in our community and that this new travel restriction may heighten bias toward individuals from the targeted countries. All in our community should contact Public Safety with any concerns about your personal safety. And for our students, please contact your school’s Dean of Students, the Office of University Life or any of the resources listed on University Life’s website and app. 

In community,

Suzanne B. Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life
Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law