February 20, 2017

US Executive Order Could Have Serious Consequences on US Science and Academia

The Executive Order banning Muslims from accessing the United States can seriously affect foreign students attending American universities. CCS urges President Trump to take this into consideration.

January 26, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Trump:

The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and scholars dedicated to protecting the human rights and scientific freedom of colleagues around the world.

We write to express our concern about possible negative consequences for United States academia and higher education of the forthcoming Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.

Science transcends national borders. While we fully understand the need to protect the country from terrorism, we are concerned that the Executive Order may do irreparable harm to the vast scientific and cultural exchange that involves thousands of scientists, medical doctors, engineers, as well as a large number of foreign students that study at U.S. universities. These scholars and students may not be able to come to the U.S. or, if they are already in the U.S., they will not be able to visit their families during summer and winter breaks for fear of not being allowed to return to school.

There is no record indicating that these valuable, educated visitors and students from Muslim countries present any danger to U.S. citizens. On the contrary, they are an indispensable part of the U.S. academic environment. Cutting them off would likely result in reciprocal actions by their countries and would be a serious impediment to scientific and cultural progress throughout the world’s academic communities. Additionally, it would affect significantly tuition in many U.S. universities.

We urge you to ensure that the fight against terrorism will not damage scientific and cultural exchanges that took decades, if not centuries, to develop. The relationships that develop in an academic environment for many exchange students build effective and successful working relationships with positive views of the United States that last lifetimes for foreign students and their families. It can only serve to benefit our country as well as others.

We urge you to assure that this exchange will be able to continue.

Sincerely,

Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich,
Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer

Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists