Leading Scientific Groups Urge Trump to Rescind Immigration Order

A broad swath of the science, engineering and academic community raised concerns about President Trump’s immigration order and called for it to be withdrawn. | Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons CC BY 4.0

The nation’s leading scientific, engineering and academic organizations are calling on President Donald Trump to rescind the executive order on immigration and visas issued on 27 January, declaring it damaging to scientific progress, innovation and U.S. science and engineering capacity.

“Scientific progress depends on openness, transparency and the free flow of ideas, and these principles have helped the United States attract and richly benefit from international scientific talent,” said the letter signed by 182 organizations and sent to President Trump on 31 January. “From the Apollo Program and exploring the far reaches of the universe, to advancing biomedical research for curing diseases and harnessing science to build a thriving high-tech sector, the United States is considered a leader in science, education and innovation. “

A growing number of signatories, representing leading professional scientific, engineering and education societies, national associations and universities, expressed their concern and outlined how the executive order will imperil the nation’s science and technology enterprise. For one, the order threatens to diminish the attractiveness of the nation as a destination for scientific researchers and discourage the thousands of international students who come to the United States to pursue their education at U.S. colleges, universities and research institutions, the letter said.

“The executive order will discourage many of the best and brightest international students, scholars and scientists from studying and working, attending academic and scientific conferences, or seeking to build new businesses in the United States,” the letter said. “Implementation of this policy will compromise the United States’ ability to attract international scientific talent and maintain scientific and economic leadership.” 

The executive order closed the nation’s borders to non-U.S. citizens, including students and scientists, from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days and halted refugee admissions for 120 days. The science and academic groups fear the impact of the directive will reduce “U.S. science and engineering output to the detriment of America and Americans,” said the joint letter.

The signatories stressed their desire to work with the Trump administration to avert any lasting impact the order may have on the U.S. role in advancing science, innovation and education.

“In order to remain the world leader in advancing scientific knowledge and innovations, the U.S. science and technology enterprise must continue to capitalize on the international and multi-cultural environment within which it operates,” the letter said.

[Associated image: Peg Hunter/Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0]