Dear Future of Research Community,
America’s leadership in biomedical research is dependent on our ability to recruit and retain the best talent not only domestically but also from around the world. Immigrants are a key driver of U.S. scientific and technological innovation and economic prosperity. Currently, more than 50% of the STEM workforce is foreign-born. Yet, new grave dangers threaten the nature of the scientific enterprise, including our ability to foster a flexible environment, creativity, and scientific innovation for researchers that come from all over the world.
The work of Future of Research (FoR) has been, and always will be, focused on creating a sustainable, equitable, and inclusive system of academic training. We aim to create an environment where everyone feels safe, included, and valued not just for their scientific contributions, but for who they are. Therefore FoR does not support any efforts to turn away foreign talent when we know it is critical for the U.S. to remain on the leading edge of biomedical research discovery.
On June 22, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak” which will expire on December 31, 2020 (link to EO). The order suspends entry for individuals under the H-1B, H-2B, J-1, and L-1 visa programs. The executive order not only goes against the very foundation of the U.S. but will also have disastrous effects on our economy, healthcare & scientific advancements. It also follows a series of additional executive orders targeting the international workforce, which creates a volatile work environment for the research community. In addition, the EO perpetuates other systemic problems, such as xenophobia on top of the already racist tendencies that have been exposed within academia over the last several months.
Additionally, 17% of the U.S. based healthcare workers and 28% of physicians and surgeons in the U.S. are foreign-born (citation). Skilled scientists and teachers from around the world have benefited from these visas and in-exchange contributed significantly towards the U.S. innovation and discovery process in science and engineering. This exchange process has helped the U.S. thrive by becoming a melting pot of brilliant minds to create a hub for the development of cutting-edge technologies. The recent ban jeopardizes this mutually beneficial relationship, as well as takes away opportunities that should be afforded to individuals of all backgrounds to study and pursue scientific research with American institutions.
We recognize that the ban will not only cause harmful effects on our scientific competitiveness as a nation but will destroy the diversity of ideas and opinions that we enjoy within the scientific enterprise and more broadly as a society. We encourage U.S. universities to continue advocating on behalf of our foreign-born researchers in order to strengthen the biomedical research workforce and enable the U.S. to remain on the leading edge of biomedical research and innovation in science and healthcare.