Immigrants are Critical for American Science

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My great-grandfather, a political refugee from Latvia, was a bacteriologist for Merck.

The Trump administration’s ill-conceived and implemented executive order harms all sorts of people, like Iraqis who risked their lives to help the US military, and US citizens whose spouses, parents, and children are not citizens. The policy is inhumane and will likely damage our national security.

It also harms science, as many are pointing out. (See Ed Yong in the Atlantic for stories of scientists who are directly affected.) Immigrants play an enormous role making American science great. I made the case for this in a Pacific Standard piece two years ago – and it’s a good day to reup the argument:

Science has always been most successful when countries exchange ideas, talent, and resources, which is why one of the National Research Council’s “ten breakthrough actions” recommended to Congress is to “ensure that the United States will continue to benefit strongly from the participation of international students and scholars in our research enterprise.” Our scientific preeminence relies heavily on migrant scientists, and that’s a good thing.

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One response to “Immigrants are Critical for American Science

  1. Hi Mike, I appreciate your concern on – Immigrants are great for American science. But at the same time, there is a brain drain happening in the native country.
    I feel, it should be mutually beneficial.
    Even now, there are lots of collaboration that happen between research institutions and academia across various countries. There is exchange of research, know how and expertise.
    America provides many advantages of Infrastructure, freedom of expression, standard of living among others for immigrants. No doubt.

    The current situation should be taken as an opportunity for American institutions to groom their own in-house talent. It is a globalized world. We are all interconnected. Perhaps, we move towards a more collaborative world, where we all help each other. Is it necessary that the person be physically present in another country ?

    This is just my opinion. I liked reading the blog posts. Thank you. Cheers, Ramkumar.

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