Dear President Trump,
The success of the scientific endeavor in the United States depends on the free exchange of ideas, information, and training at an international scale. The scientific community is deeply concerned about immigration policy that aims to ban or suspend immigration from target countries. This policy has already led to organized movements to boycott American scientific conferences, and thousands of scientists have already pledged to participate in this boycott (“Inside Higher Ed” January 31, 2017). Restricting movement and communication among scientists will have a devastating effect on scientific and technological progress in the US.
International exchange of expertise is in the interest of American science and security. First, to remain competitive in an international arena, the US needs to recruit the best talent globally. To solve persistent scientific challenges, US scientists need to exchange ideas and discoveries with scientists with different training, educational background, and starting premises. Second, such exchange broadens the application of scientific knowledge to meet challenges faced throughout the globe, some of which are now, or will in the future be, a priority for the United States. Being a leader in the application of scientific knowledge to technological, medical, agricultural, and environmental advancements should be a clear priority for the United States. Third, training of foreign scientists by Americans gives those scientists expertise they need to solve challenges in their own countries. When societies can address their own problems with creativity, technical competency, and efficiency, all parties benefit. Finally, as other countries consider reciprocal immigration bans, there is a real risk that researchers from the United States may be prevented from pursing data and collaborations elsewhere that would benefit science in this country.
Science needs an international community to advance. Restrictions on international exchange by nation of origin will marginalize American science, cutting scientists off from valuable expertise, resources to conduct their research, creative scientific insight, and practical application of scientific findings. This is not what America needs to maintain its standing, remain competitive, and solve future challenges. We hope you will honor the value of international exchange during your time in office.
Dr. Kathleen Donohue
President, American Society of Naturalists
Dr. Sally Otto
President, Society for the Study of Evolution
Dr. Luke Harmon
President, Society of Systematic Biologists