President Bacow’s Letter on Immigration Concerns to Secretary of State Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Wolf

June 11, 2020

As you well know, immigration reform has long been on the Trump Administration’s policy agenda, with multiple efforts to bar or restrict legal and illegal immigration alike. Most recently, and as part of the April Presidential Proclamation barring entry of certain immigrants to the U.S., the secretaries of homeland security, labor, and state were directed to review all nonimmigrant programs and recommend “measures appropriate to stimulate the economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of U.S. workers.” Pursuant to that order, the Trump Administration is expected in the coming days to issue an Executive Order to bar – on a temporary basis - entry to the U.S. for certain nonimmigrant categories and, in the longer term, significantly reform federal policies governing work authorization for students, scholars, and H-1B visa holders. As soon as the Executive Order is released, my office, working with the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Federal Relations, will review it and share with you information and advice.

Given the importance of international students and scholars to the life of the University – and to Harvard’s core principles of openness and inclusivity – I also want update you on the work that has occurred in anticipation of the Executive Order. In addition to the sustained immigration advocacy of Harvard’s federal relations office and its national higher education associations, on June 2 President Bacow wrote to Secretary of State Pompeo and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Wolf, urging them to advocate within the Administration against any restrictions or reforms to nonimmigrant visas and work authorizations that would threaten the free flow of students and scholars, on which all colleges and universities depend. That letter can be found here.

I appreciate and share your concerns and your sense of vulnerability, perhaps heightened by the COVID 19 pandemic and the larger societal issues our times. And I know that the entire academic community joins me in support of your place at and many contributions to Harvard.