Two weeks ago, I came back to the US after my holiday trip to Germany and France. This moment when you stand in front of the frosty immigration officer who makes you press all your fingers onto the dirty glass of the fingerprinting scanner, takes a webcam photo of your travel-exhausted face, and then scrutinizes your papers. This moment alone always makes me feel like an illegitimate intruder. But of course, it always goes well for me. This last time the immigration officer, still with her poker face on, noticed that my visa would run out in 3 months. Yes, I said hurriedly, I need to reapply. Ever wondered why they make you do this, the officer asked. I looked at her, slightly alarmed. To make a shitload of money out of you, she said, looked up, and smiled a friendly smile. I also smiled, relieved. We both laughed, and that is how I re-entered the United States of America.
It breaks Christina’s and my hearts to know that so many people won’t. We have worked with fellow scholars from countries whose travel is now limited, as they are either stuck in the US or cannot enter. It has been an enriching experience that we would not want to trade for anything, especially a false sense of security. It breaks our hearts for everyone, not only researchers, that this is happening to. But we have to start somewhere. So we depart as who we are, international junior researchers who have been benefiting tremendously from the international exchange, openness, and tolerance that we assumed would never cease to be self-evident for our lives.
Here’s a few suggestions on where to commence engaging:
Please consider signing the Academics Against Immigration Ban petition that has so far been signed by over 12,000 academic supporters.
Scientists are taking their discontent to the street, consider joining a March for Science near you, and spontaneous protests happening across the globe (often organized via social media such as Facebook).
Especially for those in the US, fellow blogger Neuroconscience has composed a Researcher’s Guide to the #Resistance, which contains a continuously updated list of very useful links.
Tell your colleagues that they are welcome, listen to their worries, and take care.
Image credits for map on election results: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2016/
Update February 3rd: A collection of links for the international citizen.
Hosting and helping
Register to help stranded scholars with assistance, lab space, a desk, etc (or talk to decision makers about doing so)
Consider becoming a host for the Scholar Rescue Fund
Find out whether your institution has a refugee program that you can join, see for example Ecole Normale Superieure’s initiative (note though that it’s often important to speak the local language very well to assist e.g. with administrative issues)
If you have more links and ideas, please let us know in the comments!