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Policy & Politics

Published on January 30th, 2017 | by Tina Casey


Trump Immigration Debacle Angers Kim Kardashian, Ensnares Scientists

January 30th, 2017 by  

Massive demonstrations erupted all over the US last weekend as newly inaugurated President Trump capped a rather unusual first week in office by signing an executive order that temporarily prevents entry into the US by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The all-but-in-name “Muslim ban” was partially stayed by emergency court orders by Saturday night, but the episode is not over by a long shot.

Science — And Kim Kardashian — Fight Back

The immigration ban sparked scenes of chaos and heartbreak that cut across party lines.

Science organizations have been preparing to march on Washington after news surfaced that the Trump Administration was trying to clamp down on federal research, and the immigration debacle is all but certain to bring more science supporters into the anti-Trump movement, Republicans as well as Democrats.

Kim Kardashian comes into the mix because she deployed science (well, facts) over the weekend to protest the immigration ban to her 49.8 million Twitter followers, and it’s a good guess that her fan base cuts across party lines, too. If you can’t read the fine print, the chart refers to annual numbers since the 9/11 terror attacks:

Kardashian Trump immigration

Nature Names Scientists Caught In Immigration Ban

In another sign of things to come, by Sunday the journal Nature — hardly a bastion of liberal leftist thinking — had quickly rounded up compelling stories of scientists caught up in the Trump immigration net.

For those of you on the go, the gist of it is that virtually the entire US scientific community is at risk, either because they are persons directly affected by the immigration ban or they are involved in a field that will suffer when access to global communication and collaboration is cut off.

Nature spoke to more than 20 researchers including Iranian citizen Kaveh Daneshvar, a molecular geneticist studying at Harvard Medical School in Boston who is afraid to attend a conference in Canada because he may be denied re-entry.

Then there’s Ali Shourideh, an Iranian economist Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Though he has a green card, he is afraid to travel to Iran to visit his mother, who is battling cancer.

Another representative case involves an Iranian engineering student at Wayne State University in Detroit:

…The man just bought a house with his wife, who is expecting their first child — a girl — next week. The couple was expecting their parents to come from Iran to visit the baby, but those plans are on hold. So are the green cards the young couple had expected to receive in April.

According to Nature, the couple may head back to Australia in a few months, before their permanent residency in that country expires.

Here’s the story of Syrian student Ubadah Sabbagh, who came to the US to attend school:

…Because he ignored an order to serve in the Syrian army, he cannot return home or renew his passport. Now he is worried about conditions in the United States.

“This is not going to be a footnote in American history,” Sabbagh says. “We could slip into a very dark place very quickly if people just decide to be indifferent.”

That’s just a taste. For full details do read the full article about scientists impacted by the Trump policy, including several who face persecution in their home countries.

When You’ve Lost The American Chemical Society…

Fortunately, the indifference factor is not at play. That’s amply evidenced by the massive protests over the weekend as well as a show of support for the American Civil Liberties Union, which was instrumental in getting the ban partially lifted in court.

Trump’s position on climate change and his reckless approach to public policy have already galvanized environmental groups into action, but the real tell will be what the American Chemical Society thinks of all this.

Like Nature, ACS is not exactly a bastion of leftist thought.

Check out these heavy hitters with ACS Corporate Associate status:

Bristol-Myers Squibb Corp.
British American Tobacco
The Dow Chemical Company
Dow Corning Corp.DuPont
Eastman Chemical Corp.
Eli Lilly & Corp.
ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Corp.
General Motors R&D Center
Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research
Pfizer Inc.
The Procter & Gamble Co.
Xerox Corporation

Yep, that would be ExxonMobil in the mix, among others.

Despite the strong corporate presence at ACS — or perhaps because of it — the organization has been busy laying the groundwork for a confrontation with the Trump Administration.

On January 24, just days before the immigration debacle broke open, ACS issued a press release outlining its advocacy agenda for the year.

The three main areas of focus are federal investment in R&D, a rational public policy on climate change, and the free exchange of information. That last item appears to be a not so subtle response to the Trump Administration clampdown on federal scientists:

…ACS seeks public policies that sustain the role of expert peer review in evaluating scientific opportunities, protect scientists from political interference in the scientific process, and help government bodies obtain and integrate scientific assessments into policy development and implementation.

On January 25, ACS upped the ante with a press release directly referring to reports that the Trump Administration was clamping down on science information:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is monitoring, with concern, reports stating the Trump administration is changing scientific communication policy and grant procedures. During this transition, ACS urges the administration to clarify, as soon as possible, its positions on these policies.

ACS further noted that its Freedom of International Scientific Exchange statement includes this nugget:

Science and scholarship flourish when scientists collaboratively pursue and publish research and communicate without externally imposed impediment, limitation, or restriction. It is important for organizations that represent scientists and educators to advocate the most open and fair exchange among scientists without limitations imposed by national and global political concerns.


Then there’s the ACS’ Scientific Integrity in Public Policy statement:

Scientists and engineers have an obligation to provide comprehensive, transparent, unbiased, and understandable technical analyses. Policymakers have the responsibility to consider these analyses and any other relevant technical input in a comprehensive, transparent, and unbiased manner.

That was last week. It’s only Monday, so hold on to your hats.

After all, it’s not every US President who manages, with one stroke of the pen, to unite Kim Kardashian and the American Chemical Society in a common cause.

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Image (screenshot): via American Chemical Society.



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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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