UW graduate students sue Trump over travel ban

University of Washington. (Photo by Venice Buhain.)

Two University of Washington graduate students from Iran are taking President Donald Trump to court, after they say his temporary travel ban has hurt their ability to pursue research and internship opportunities and could damage their careers.

The two are part of a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday challenging Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned travel in the U.S. by nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state announced on Tuesday.

The suit aims to represent those with valid student and work visas, according to an ACLU press release. The suit also includes the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, which says that the travel ban has harmed its refugee program.

One of the students, identified only as “John Doe,” is a doctoral candidate in Aeronautic and Astronautic Engineering who also participates in joint research with the Chinese Academy of Science. The student had been planning to travel to China in 2017, but now fears he will not be allowed to re-enter the United States, according to the ACLU’s press release.

Another graduate student, identified as “Jane Doe,” is studying for a Master’s degree and plans on working on international issues, according to the ACLU. She had been pursuing international internships for this summer, but canceled her interviews for fear that she would not being allowed to re-enter. The lack of international internships could hurt her employment after graduation, according to her lawyers.

Both students hold F1 student visas and have family in Iran, according to the ACLU.

The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia — which is based in Seattle — was also part of the lawsuit, saying that five refugee families that it was assisting had to change their plans abruptly. The change not only caused the families distress, according to the court documents, but the church group spent additional resources to cope with the sudden changes, which harmed its ability to fulfill its religious mission.

On Jan. 27, Trump signed a 90-day travel ban of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. But last Friday, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart blocked the travel ban with a temporary restraining order after a lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The Trump administration filed an appeal of Robart’s ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments on Tuesday afternoon.

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