The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently released a statement expressing its concern over the Presidential Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” and the effect this order may have on the freedom of scientific exchange among scientists and students worldwide. The ACS public policy, “Freedom of International Scientific Exchange,” specifically supports the ability of scientists to operate without barriers, impediments, limitations, or restrictions to travel, collaborate, or otherwise have meaningful discourse.

The ACS statement was originally adopted to allow the society to intervene on behalf of foreign scientists imprisoned or otherwise constrained by oppressive regimes seeking to compromise the legitimate research with which these scientists were engaged. While the ACS understands the administration has communicated that the intent of the order is to prevent terrorists from entering the country, it feels that the order itself is overly broad in its reach, unfairly targets individuals from a handful of nations, ignores established mechanisms designed to achieve the ends sought by the order, and sets potential precedent for future executive orders.

The society notes that reliable media sources are reporting that the executive order and its implementation have caused tremendous confusion both in the U.S. and worldwide, where individuals with valid green cards have been detained or otherwise prevented from completing previously approved travel to the U.S. Adding to the confusion are orders from several federal judges directing the administration to temporarily halt the travel ban. The ACS encourages the administration to revisit the executive order and seek less intrusive means to achieve its goals, including the use of existing programs.

To help facilitate international scientific collaboration, the society operates a web-based resource, the ACS International Center, which provides useful information and tools to allow freedom of scientific exchange, including detailed information on securing approval for travel to the U.S.

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