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IASSIST's Statement in Response to President’s Executive Order on Visas and Immigration


February 13, 2017

Statement of the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST at http://iassistdata.org) in response to President Trump's January 27 Executive Order on Visas and Immigration, titled "PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES".

The recent executive order on visas and immigration issued on January 27th by US President Trump is of grave concern to IASSIST as an organization. IASSIST, the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology, is an international organization of professionals working in and with information technology, libraries, data services and research & higher education to support open science, advocate for responsible data management and use, build a broader community surrounding research data, and encourage the development of data professionals. Our membership is international, and we greatly value the ability to travel and meet to share knowledge at locations around the world. Our international fellows program and other initiatives are specifically designed to encourage participation from underrepresented regions, including the Muslim-majority countries targeted by the executive order.

While recognizing the authority of the United States over its borders, there are several aspects of this order that are troubling, viz.:

  1. Its sudden and chaotic implementation has led to severe uncertainty over whether rules and practices for entering the United States will be subject to rapid and arbitrary change.
  2. It has led to the detention of lawful permanent residents of the United States, the revocation of visas previously granted under proper vetting procedures, the perception of potential discrimination on the basis of religion, and the humanitarian crisis caused by ceasing to accept refugees.
  3. Its introduction of several restrictive elements into the domain of visas and immigration, such as the statement that those entering the US, including temporary visitors, must "support the Constitution".

For these reasons, the order generates a hostile climate for the open, collaborative scientific work of our organization, both for non-US persons seeking to work and collaborate with Americans, and for Americans traveling and working outside of the US to collaborate who may face retributive actions from other states. Our membership has legitimate concerns about whether travel to the US is possible under such conditions. The order also may have long-term repercussions that damage the reputation of the US as a location that is open to visitors and immigrants, supporting the open exchange of ideas, and protected under the rule of law from arbitrary changes impacting human freedom. In response, IASSIST will continue to speak out in favor of our organization's goals, and against such threats to international collaboration in research and data sharing.

Our May 2017 annual conference will be held in Lawrence, Kansas. Arrangements were begun long before the Executive Order on Visas and Immigration, and it is impossible to change the venue at this date. IASSIST stands in solidarity with its members and encourages them to attend the conference and participate in the international exchange of ideas that is the purpose of our association. We hope that no member will be denied entry into the US due to the administration's recent actions. IASSIST will assist its membership with visa issues and other concerns emanating from this order. We also reaffirm that we are committed to an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, at the annual conference and all IASSIST activities.

 Tuomas J. Alaterä, President
 Jen Green, Vice-President
 Ryan Womack, Secretary
 Thomas Lindsay, Treasurer

International Association for Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST)

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