Banned undergraduate students allowed to return to MIT

Pending Seattle court case will decide future of executive order

The two undergraduates who had been barred from returning to MIT by President Donald J. Trump’s executive order on immigration were welcomed back to campus Feb. 3.

Niki Rahmati ’18 and Fadi Atieh ’20 were able to return after a Massachusetts court temporarily stayed the order Jan. 29, making it legal for them to fly into Logan Airport.

“We can all be glad that our affected undergraduates have overcome their immediate immigration difficulties and are back with us,” President L. Rafael Reif wrote in an email Friday. “If they or others continue to face challenges in the future, MIT will be by their side.”

“There is no way I can thank MIT enough for this,” Rahmati wrote in a Facebook post Feb. 5. “Chancellor Barnhart was in touch with me every single day, updating me with any new information and guiding me on the next steps I could take. … There were multiple attorneys and deans waiting for Fadi and me at the airport and gave us the warmest welcome ever.”

In the post, she also reflected on her home country. “I might be far from home, and I might not have the chance to travel back home for a while, but I will always have Iran in my heart.”

Aside from the two undergraduates, three other MIT affiliates — two researchers and a visiting student — had been barred by the executive order. All three had arrived back to campus by Sunday, Feb. 5. With their return, no current MIT affiliates are known to be stuck abroad, according to MIT News.

At least eight researchers from the seven countries affected by the ban — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia — had received offers to join MIT, but will be unable to acquire visas as long as the order remains in place.

In total, there are over 100 students and researchers from the seven affected countries on campus, according to MIT News.

On Friday, a federal judge in Seattle, Wash. issued an injunction that temporarily blocked enforcement of the immigration order nationwide.

The Justice Department responded Monday, filing an appeal against the judge’s order. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing Tuesday, where three judges heard oral arguments presented by two lawyers representing the Justice Department and the state of Washington.

A ruling — which could reinstate Trump’s ban or uphold the Seattle judge’s order — is expected later this week.