By Swagata Basu
On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order banning refugees and immigrants, including green card and travel visa holders, from seven countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Syrian refugees have been banned indefinitely from entering the country placing them further in limbo.
At least 18 percent of the entire U.S. scientific workforce, and more than half of all biomedical postdoctoral scholars, are immigrants who have significantly contributed to the nation’s overall growth in prominent sectors of science and technology. Their contributions have a positive impact on the economic growth of the nation, highlighting the importance of international talent in America’s global scientific enterprise.
Prominent scientists, including several Nobel Laureates, have signed a petition condemning the order stating that it will seriously affect scientific progress and collaborations with the banned nations. The petition strongly opposes the “unethical and discriminatory treatment of law abiding immigrants” and has urged Trump to reconsider this executive order. In addition, academic institutions, like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan and Harvard University, and scientific organizations, like the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Future of Research, and others have spoken out in support of international students and scholars who have been directly affected by this ban.
The executive order will undoubtedly damage the American research enterprise and the many scientists who had once dreamed of a better future on American soil. The ability for the U.S. to maintain its position as a leader in innovation depends on the steady attraction of some of the best and brightest from around the world. Immigrant scientists are essential for our scientific excellence and advancement and strengthen our workforce and economy.
Swagata Basu is passionate about communicating scientific knowledge and making it accessible for all. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas and is currently a Science Communications Fellow at Inscopix, Inc. She can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter (@swagatarc21).