Academics Gear Up To Fight Trump’s Immigration Policy

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Academics are organizing a petition to “resist” President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, claiming open borders are vital to scientific research.

An open petition boasting signatures from 42,000 U.S. academics and 62 Nobel Laureates, demands Trump retract his temporary halt to accepting refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

The open letter claims Trump’s immigration policy places a “harsh and undue burden on the people affected, needlessly and cruelly separating families by limiting travel and restricting entry.”

The petition has been supported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest organization of scientists and engineers in the world. AAAS claims the temporary ban on immigration from those countries will “upend scientists’ lives.”

“In my relatively long career I have not seen this level of concern about science,” Rush Holt, a physicist and former Democratic congressman who leads the AAAS, said in press statement. “This immigration ban has serious humanitarian issues, but I bet it never occurred to them that it also has scientific implications.”

Other than the petition, overseas academics are threatening to boycott meetings held in the U.S. until the temporary immigration ban is lifted. So far, this appears to be limited to a single Sudanese-born mathematician, who did not attend a conference in the U.S.

The academics are specifically worried about the roughly 1,500 students from Iran who have received doctorates from U.S. universities in the past three years, stating that they could potentially be denied entrance at the border if they leave the country.

Many academics have a strong ideological commitment to open borders and therefore view any attempts at immigration control to be a serious problem. “It doesn’t matter if you were born in Pakistan or Somalia or whatever – scientists like to work with scientists,” Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told The Los Angeles Times.

Academic opposition isn’t much of a surprise however, as only 6 percent of university researcher claim to be Republicans while 55 percent identify as Democrats, according to a study by Pew Research Center.

The academics have already formed a political action committee dubbed 314 Action PAC, which claims to be training 2,500 people with science backgrounds how to run for office.

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