Immigration ban is antithetical to scientific progress
By Boaz Barak and Omer Reingold
Update (1/28): If you are an academic that opposes this action, please consider signing the following open letter.
Today leaked drafts of planned executive actions showed that president Trump apparently intends to issue an order suspending (and possibly permanently banning) entry to the U.S. of citizens of seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. As Scott Aaronson points out, one consequence of this is that students from these countries would not be able to study or do research in U.S. universities.
The U.S. has mostly known to separate its treatment of foreign governments from its treatment of their citizens, whether it is Cubans, Russians, or other cases. Based on the past records, the danger of terrorism by lawful visitors to the U.S. from the seven countries above is slim to none. But over the years, visitors and immigrants from these countries did contribute immensely to the U.S. society, economy, and the scientific world at large.
We personally have collaborated and built on the scientific works of colleagues from these countries. In particular, both of us are originally from Israel, but have collaborated with scientists from Iran who knew that the issues between the two governments should not stop scientific cooperation.
This new proposed policy is not just misguided, but also directly contradicts the interests of the U.S., and the advancement of science. We call on all our fellow scientists to express their strong disagreement with it, and their solidarity and gratitude for the contributions of visiting and immigrant scientists, without which the U.S., and the state of human knowledge, would not have been the same.