The Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017, by the Trump Administration that bans travel into the United States by residents of six predominantly Muslim countries maintains the same basic flaws found in the Administration’s first attempt to restrict entry into the country. In both cases, the decision to deny entry into the U.S. is based solely on nationality. The Executive Order also suspends the entire U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program for 120 days and reduces the annual number of refugees admitted into the country from 120,000 to 50,000.
In addition, on Friday, March 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a six-month-long suspension of premium processing of H-1B visa petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. This suspension will eliminate the option for expedited review of H-1B visa applications. The extended visa review process will force promising young foreign students to delay the start of research careers while they wait for their visas. It will also slow the work done by research institutions that depend on foreign born students and researchers.
The recent travel-related actions by the Trump Administration have created a sense of uncertainty and unease. The potential of not being able to return home after visiting countries outside the U.S. may force many in the scientific community to refrain from traveling in the first place.
The scientific process does not take place in a vacuum. It is collaborative and depends heavily on the interaction and exchange of ideas and information that can only take place face-to-face at scientific meetings. It is critical for researchers, regardless of place of birth, to share the results of their research with colleagues. It is also critical for them to learn what other research is being done in their area of expertise.
The ASCB and its leadership recognize the need to protect the nation. However, we also recognize the importance of preserving principles critical to the scientific process that will keep the U.S. a scientific leader.

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Kevin M. Wilson

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: kwilson@ascb.org