This week, SOT issued a statement expressing concern about the US Presidential Proclamation 10052, “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the Coronavirus Outbreak,” which suspends the issuance of nonimmigrant H-1B, H-2B, Exchange Visitor (J), and L visas.
SOT encouraged the administration to reconsider the order owing to the negative effect it will likely have on the scientific community and US-based laboratories and research projects. The full statement is available on the SOT website.
SOT also recently added its name to an open letter to the White House, US Department of Homeland Security, and US Department of State regarding the July 6, 2020, announcement by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that students on nonimmigrant visas would not be allowed to remain in the United States if their universities shifted to online-only classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 1.6 million students are currently studying in the United States under Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) visas, and the letter encouraged US leaders to reinstate the SEVP exemption that was implemented early this year, which allowed students to continue their studies in the United States through virtual classes and other educational opportunities presented by their universities. In a hearing on June 14, 2020, regarding a lawsuit initiated by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to block the new ICE policy, US District Judge Allison D. Burroughs announced that the federal government had rescinded the July 6 policy directive and any implementation of the directive. The original letter is available on the SOT website.
Finally, alongside other scientific societies, SOT signed a letter to US Vice President Mike Pence expressing concern about recent efforts to “cast doubt on science and sow mistrust for public health expertise.” The letter emphasizes the importance of relying on sound scientific and public health guidance at all times, but especially in current times as the United States and other countries battle COVID-19. The original letter is available on the SOT website.