President Leo M. Lambert signs letter regarding Executive Order on immigration

Elon's president joins nearly 600 college leaders in signing a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security from the American Council on Education

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert is among 598 college and university presidents who have signed a letter sent by the American Council on Education (ACE) to Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly regarding concerns about the recent Executive Order related to immigration issues. In addition to ACE, the letter is backed by the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and other higher education associations. The letter was released on Friday, Feb. 3.

The text of the letter signed by President Lambert is as follows: 

The Honorable John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 

Dear Secretary Kelly:

Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary of Homeland Security. You have inherited a wide array of challenges, central among them immigration and the protection of our nation.

Our colleges and universities have been partners with the Department of Homeland Security in protecting our country since the agency’s creation. We are committed to continuing this important collaboration. It is in that spirit that we write to express our concerns about the Jan. 27, 2017 executive order and wish to set forth principles concerning the role of international students, faculty, researchers and staff on our campuses.

We take seriously the need to safeguard our nation and also the need for the United States to remain the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest students, faculty, and scholars. International exchange is a core value and strength of American higher education. Moreover, our nation’s welcoming stance to scholars and scientists has benefited the U.S. through goodwill and a long history of scientific and technological advances that have been essential to the economic growth our country has experienced for decades. When they return home they are ambassadors for American values, democracy and the free market.

Our nation can only maintain its global scientific and economic leadership position if it encourages those talented people to come here to study and work. America is the greatest magnet for talented people from around the world and it must remain so.

We are confident that our nation can craft policies that secure us from those who wish to harm us, while welcoming those who seek to study, conduct research and scholarship, and contribute their knowledge and talents to our country. We look forward to building on our partnership with the Department to address these important issues.


On Tuesday, Jan. 31, ACE was among 47 higher education organizations that sent a letter to Secretary Kelly offering assistance with the challenges the Homeland Security Department faces in connection with international students, faculty and scholars at U.S. institutions of higher education. 

The letter notes that the roughly one million international students that attend U.S. colleges and universities add to this country’s intellectual and cultural vibrancy, and they also yield an estimated economic impact of $32.8 billion and support 400,000 U.S. jobs, according to recent estimates. It adds that international students, faculty and scholars have served America well throughout the nation’s history and enrich campuses and the country with their talents and skills.

Additional Media