Monday, January 30, 2017

BREAKING: ACS "expresses concern" on President Trump's immigration executive order

It's politics time, folks. Don't want to read it? I won't be offended.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2017 — As the world’s largest scientific society, the American Chemical Society (ACS) expresses its concern over the Presidential Executive Order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” and the chilling effect this order may potentially have on the freedom of scientific exchange among scientists and students worldwide.... 
[snip] 
...While 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... 
[snip] 
ACS encourages the administration to revisit the executive order and seek less intrusive means to achieve its goals, including the use of existing programs.
In related news, a few items:
It seems to me that the executive order was poorly targeted, poorly implemented and will have long-term negative consequences for the reputation and trustworthiness of American immigration authorities around the world (not that, I suspect, CBP, State and Homeland Security had good reputations). I don't think it improves the reputation of the United States of America, either. Sigh. 

In other news, this draft executive order regarding H-1B visas will be interesting. I am very curious as to whether or if this will ever be issued (assuming that AG-designate Jeff Sessions' former aide Stephen Miller is now White House policy director, I think the answer is: yes.) It's hard to know what it all means, other than making life difficult for tech companies to bring in lower-wage IT workers. Hard to shed very many tears for those companies; the workers (both international and domestic), I am much more sympathetic to. 

35 comments:

  1. 1. The pushback for even modest security concerns or immigration controls is just mind-blowing. And i've been watching this stuff since mid-election now.

    (1a. I've seen increased grad students from some of those countries but would actually be interested to hear if there are really any Somalia or Yemen students in US departments now)

    2. C&EN's editora: Do i even need to say that inviting immigrants who then advocate for increased immigration is ... counterproductive?

    3. If the ACS is going to overtly shill for political PACs won't that impact their fabled non-profit status?

    4. If it damages our reputation around the world to have border controls comparable to China, India, Mexico (Guatemala side), most Arab states (vs Israel) and Israel itself, well, I think we can live with that.

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    1. Fair point, re: Somalia/Yemen. I think it's Iran that is the largest source of potential students.

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    2. I have worked with and taught many Iranian students over the years. The majority are the furthest thing from a threat that you can imagine. Most have no association with Islam, and despise the fact that it was forced upon them and their families, and almost all that I have known practice very moderate (cultural) Zoroastrianism and not Islam. Unequivocally, they have all been honest, polite, hard working people.

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    3. Keeping Iran's youth in Iran is the worst thing possible for the Iranian regime.

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    4. Forgot to add Sudan, also not a big future source I'm guessing.

      Anon @2:57 makes a good case for actually having a "religious test" since religious minorities within NAME are probably in more danger than the Muslim majorities. .

      Anyway I find my email folders today are full of college/university presidents (from my employers and alma maters) declaring their love of foreign students, open borders and intent to resist even asking whether a student is in this country lawfully. Again, this was something the left at least pretended to be concerned about at least thru the Clinton administration.

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    5. While I agree that the many more scientists immigrate for work from Iran and than Somalia or Yemen, there are some situations where green card holders or other legal immigrants who have interests relevant to the ACS may be Somali or Yemeni. For example, I taught a student who came to the US as a child with her parents as a Yemeni refugee.

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  2. "poorly targeted, poorly implemented and will have long-term negative consequences for the reputation and trustworthiness of American immigration authorities around the world"

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    Sadly, Trump is doing exactly what he said he'd do and, presumably, what many of the 62 million Americans who voted for him wanted.

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  3. 1) I guess I didn't realize that making America like Guatemala and China constituted making us great again. I'm assuming the large number of people from those countries who emigrated to here would probably disagree.

    2) If you wanted to make moderate security and immigration changes, the Trump Administration could have done them competently...but they didn't. The Trump EO changing immigration policy is like B+B quitting the circus business by closing its (unannounced) last show with a flamethrower and a tanker truck of gasoline. I think that would have had less collateral damage, though.

    I can hardly wait for the next circus actXXXXXXXXXXXexecutive order.

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    1. Good one. The point is having border control is normal to the rest of the world and none of them have much room to criticize us. If Europe wants to commit cultural suicide by throwing their doors open that's not something we need to follow suit on.

      The "large numbers of people from Guatemala" indeed. How did that happen? I don't remember voting on it.

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    2. @bagger vance Aha! I was wondering when the "cultural suicide/erosion/loss of our values" was going to come out to play.

      Also, I thought your type liked to boast about American exceptionalism, no? So why should we follow what the rest of the world does when WE'RE #1 WOOOOOO

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    3. I don't remember much voting on immigration, though, so I don't know when you would remember voting on it, either. Here's the total US populations of immigrants, though -http://www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/data-hub/charts/immigrants-countries-birth-over-time?width=1000&height=850&iframe=true
      Guatemala comes in at about 800K in the US (almost all in the 35 years between 1980 and now), while its population has been between 13-16 M over 2005-2016, so about 40-45K/year (so an emigration rate of 0.3-0.4%) Chinese immigrant population in the US comes to about 2M.

      We accept as a rule (and I imagine that lots of the conservative people who support the EO) accept that gun deaths are a cost of having guns around - that the right to bear arms and its consequent benefits are worth the costs of people having them. Our ability to accept people from other places and to not discriminate on religion are core the identity of America, and it seems like compromising them for safety (the amount of added safety provided by the pause in immigration and institution of "extreme vetting") isn't clear and isn't likely to be large). If you're going to sell out, you ought to get something worth the sale.

      This policy also seems to race and religion to immigration, or more accurately, to center them there. This is not likely to make the problem of illegal immigration easier to solve, but harder. Of course, choosing to defy the courts on the EO also means that the Trump Administration is eroding what little credibility it has, making it less likely that they will be able to do what they want. The President has as much authority on immigration as Congress gives him, and while I doubt their moral courage, people in authority don't like being told to shove it, and that motivates people who otherwise might not care. Between this and Mnuchin lying to the Senate (see http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170129/trump-treasury-pick-mnuchin-misled-senate-on-foreclosures-ohio-cases-show), I don't think Trump is setting himself up very well. On the other hand, unless there were pictures of Trump in flagrante delicto with Vladimir Putin, or explicit emails, I'm not sure Congress would remove Trump. That would probably permanently cost them a large part of their base, and they really don't want that (unless Trump threatened to renegotiate the national debt, in which case the bills of impeachment would probably be served to President Trump with breakfast, and his lunch would probably be served on the train to NYC, or from the drive-through window at McDonalds on the way to the train).

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    4. "The point is having border control is normal to the rest of the world and none of them have much room to criticize us. "

      I wasn't aware the choice was between a counterproductive immigration ban and accompanying expensive and ineffective wall or giving up on border control. Prior to the executive orders we already had limits on refugees, and had extensive background checks on them. Prior to this year net immigration was negative from Mexico for, I believe, the last several years. Now if we ant that trend to continue it would behoove us not to get into a trade war that damages the Mexican economy and sends people north out of desperation. If we want Mexico's assistance curbing migration from Central America it would help to not antagonize them with needless bluster about making them pay for our boondoggle. Even if we were to grant that immigration needs to be dramatically curbed like some contemporary Know-nothing party, the current administration has gone about it in a ham-fisted and likely counterproductive manner.

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  4. The ban on entry was 100% pure populism, nothing to do with security concerns, and it may have been done in a way that is messy and crude on purpose. 1) There is no such thing like bad press for Trump - the bigger the stink the better it fits his narrative style "us vs. them", the trumpenproletariat will only notice that some women at the airport were wearing a headscarf and that alone is good enough reason to keep them out. 2) The Trump inner circle is testing the power system for even more drastic measures, this is more like a salvo for the opposition to show its strength and positions. I think they are more concerned about revolt within the national security bureaucracy than protesters in the street.

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  5. A ridiculous overreaction to a ridiculous overreaction.

    I think I like Trump a bit less than ACS, but it's pretty darn close...

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  6. Given that the order is temporary, and similar to orders given by the previous administration, I can't imagine even the slightest effect on "freedom of scientific exchange." Glad to have further confirmations of ACS's political bias...

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    1. How is it similar to previous orders? http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2017/jan/30/donald-trump/why-comparing-trumps-and-obamas-immigration-restri/

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    2. If you really believe that, I have an application to Trump University for you...

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    3. Yup, politifact. After detailing that there were in fact similarities, these "neutral fact checkers" then give us their long list of distinctions without differences as to why the two are not EXACTLY the same.

      Since when is a presidential decree EXACTLY like anything done in the past? Was Obama's elimination of the Cuban "wet foot dry foot" policy, in which Cuban immigrants were left stranded in transit, EXACTLY like anything done in the past? Was Obama's Iraqi moratorium? Was Carter's Iranian ban?

      Presidents site past actions to justify what they do. Rarely is there an exact precedent. It's just that the "fact checkers" seem to check some claims more aggressively than others.

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    4. 'I therefore have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict the international travel and to suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of certain persons who have engaged in the acts outlined in section 1 of this proclamation.'
      https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/04/presidential-proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-and-nonimmigrants-


      (f) Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
      https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-2006/0-0-0-2364.html

      Better read the EO myself than read some news site.

      And it's not a muslim ban. It doesn't restrict muslim entering from other country.

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    5. Yeah, having a specific trigger and limited area of affect (limited country count) and application (to visa exemptions rather than all visitors) are minor and insignificant differences between the policies. Sure.

      I don't think there are enough drugs available for me to grok Trumpworld logic. I'm sort of grateful for that, actually.

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    6. Re: "And it's not a muslim ban. It doesn't restrict muslim entering from other country."

      Right, he's just banning countries that are Muslim majority, and explicitly stating he will favor Christian immigrants from those countries as a matter of policy. Justifying it with lies about how Christian immigrants are disfavored when, in fact, they are disproportionately represented in immigration to the US, while using nebulous threats of terrorism and - bizarrely - beheadings as justification for banning these countries.

      The fact that these things are going down in these countries is why people are trying to escape in the first place. But that doesn't fit into the narrative of all Muslims = bad, so why not use shock imagery and appeal to the persecution complex white supremacists love so much instead of actual, real facts.

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  7. 'I suspect, CBP, State and Homeland Security had good reputations). '

    Personal experience, I disagree. It is bureaucratic, and they think they have power over you, combine these 2,......

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  8. I'm interested to see how the March for Science turns out. It would be exciting if it led to ongoing grassroots engagement on the part of scientists. It seems like the various societies try to get members engaged but the numbers are relatively small and the societies are sometimes rather risk averse.

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    1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/opinion/a-scientists-march-on-washington-is-a-bad-idea.html?_r=0

      You don't win by playing the wrong game.

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    2. Re the NYT article,

      I think Scientists rubbing elbows with the "common folk" would help the scientists more than the common folk.

      All groups are susceptible to the echo chamber effect.

      A lot of grad students and undergraduates aren't strangers to physical labor and with the common folk, but how many senior scientists, especially in academe, have ever had a beer or bowled with a carpenter, auto mechanic, or warehouse worker?

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    3. @10:52
      This makes zero sense. Senior scientists and academics were once undergraduates and grad students. Everyone has families, and some scientists (like my husband) come from blue collar ones.

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    4. So how much time does he spend with carpenters, auto mechanics and warehouse workers? How much does he actually talk to them and try to understand their needs? Does he try to persuade any of them why their tax dollars should be used to support his research?

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  9. With the exception of Iran I'm not sure that we have many people from these countries working in science/tech in the States. A 120 day travel ban for the specific 7 countries is nothing to lose one's head about.

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    1. @anon 9:25
      I think the (or at least a) greater concern is that this was obviously a move done for pure optics to satiate the far right support base. All logic and precedent (which I hope scientists can still appreciate even when they put their political blinders on) point to no actual threat coming from refugees/immigrants from those countries.

      If smaller things like this go unchallenged, then whats next? The checks and balances in government are clearly broken with it having swung too far to one side.

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  10. I mean what on Earth ACS can do other than some meek response? Mr. Trump has railroaded everyone who are more powerful and for him the ACS is a piece of cake. The ACS is surviving with membership dues and they just simply do not have enough leverage (no powerful people or money) and their action like petition can only bring a smirk!

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  11. I guess this is more important to the ACS than working on employment issues, surplus of chemists, low wages, etc.

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    1. Except they can't do much about those things. They can help people network better and prepare for the jobs that are present, but I don't think they have the ability to increase the number of jobs present or their pay. They don't really have the ability to decrease the number of chemists - older ones that are still employed probably can't afford to retire, universities are hiring temps to replace tenured to save money (so asking older professors to retire wouldn't help so much, and would probably mostly get "No"s), and schools are turning out lots of chemists (if ACS strengthened its curriculum requirements enough to lower student count, universities would probably ignore them). They could lobby for reduced visas and other things to prevent outsourcing and recruiting cheaper people from abroad, but they would face lots of conflict inside and out (and it would conflict with what their goals have been).

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    2. Ask and ye shall receive: http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/trump-set-to-clamp-down-on-h1b-visas/357373.html

      Clearly unsure this will actually happen. I'm a little skeptical Trump really cares about H1b jobs---they seem to mostly be in states that didn't vote for him. Damn foreigners, eh.

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