Samira Asgari spent months planning her move from Switzerland to the United States. The 30-year-old Iranian woman had secured a post-doctoral fellowship at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She’d won a prestigious award for her research in genomics that would even pay her salary at her new, American lab.
“I was really happy, and it felt like everything was going right,” she said.
Everything changed, however, when Asgari flew from Geneva to Frankfurt and attempted to board her second flight to Boston.
“A gentleman stopped me from boarding the plane,” she said. “He told me he was a consulate of the American government in Frankfurt and not allowing anybody with a number of nationalities to board planes to the United States. They had already unloaded my luggage and everything.”
Asgari was confused. “My first reaction was: but I have a valid visa.” Despite this, she was told she would not be allowed entry into the US under President Trump’s new executive order, which currently bars residents of seven majority-Muslim countries from entry.
President Donald Trump has signed an Executive Order (EO) proposing a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. The unrealistic conditions required for discontinuing the suspension make it very likely that this EO will turn into a permanent ban. We, the undersigned academics and researchers from a variety of fields of study, backgrounds, and personal convictions, would like to voice our concern and strongly oppose this measure on three grounds:
1. This Executive Order is discriminatory. The EO unfairly targets a large group of immigrants and non-immigrants on the basis of their countries of origin, all of which are nations with a majority Muslim population. This is a major step towards implementing the stringent racial and religious profiling promised on the campaign trail. The United States is a democratic nation, and ethnic and religious profiling are in stark contrast to the values and principles we hold.
2. This Executive Order is detrimental to the national interests of the United States. The EO significantly damages American leadership in higher education and research. US research institutes host a significant number of researchers from the nations subjected to the upcoming restrictions. From Iran alone, more than 3000 students have received PhDs from American universities in the past 3 years. The proposed EO limits collaborations with researchers from these nations by restricting entry of these researchers to the US and can potentially lead to departure of many talented individuals who are current and future researchers and entrepreneurs in the US. We strongly believe the immediate and long term consequences of this EO do not serve our national interests.
3. This Executive Order imposes undue burden on members of our community. The people whose status in the United States would be reconsidered under this EO are our students, friends, colleagues, and members of our communities. The implementation of this EO will necessarily tear families apart by restricting entry for family members who live outside of the US and limiting the ability to travel for those who reside and work in the US. These restrictions would be applied to nearly all individuals from these countries, regardless of their immigration status or any other circumstances. This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and unAmerican.
These bans, as proposed, have consequences that reach beyond the scope of national security. The unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States.
We strongly denounce this ban and urge the President to reconsider going forward with this Executive Order.
To add your name, please send an email to [NoToImmigrationEO@gmail.com] from your academic email. The subject of your email must be one line: name, award/distinction, title, affiliation (e.g. John Doe, Nobel Laureate (Physics 1999), Professor, Harvard University)