The DPS Committee condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent restrictions in visas and travel policy for students, postdocs, and researchers in planetary science and related fields. In particular, the sudden cancellation of student visas at universities offering predominantly online learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic compromises the health and safety of students and faculty. Moreover, it sends the message that the US does not value the talents and contributions of the best and brightest that the world has to offer, and disregards the hard work and brilliance of immigrant scientists that is integral to the U.S. research enterprise. With only 5 weeks remaining before the start of classes at most schools, these policy changes create a logistical nightmare that must be opposed, in addition to the chaos caused by new travel restrictions for visa holders.
To that end, the DPS Committee and the Federal Relations Subcommittee (FRS) encourage members to sign the petition here:
Additionally, we urge members to contact your elected representatives and express our concerns about these recent attacks on planetary science. Phone calls are a very effective method for reaching your representatives. Meanwhile, the DPS FRS and AAS CAPP are working to advocate against these policy changes by writing letters in coordination with other professional societies and preparing to support major lawsuits as they arise; this work is in progress. The FRS welcomes member participation in the FRS, and you can reach out to members of the committee here https://dps.aas.org/leadership/frs.
A possible set of talking points for use with your elected representatives might be:
"I am calling to let you know about the impact of the Administration’s recent restrictions on F-1, M-1, J-1, J-2, and H1B visas and travel for students, postdocs, and researchers. These restrictions represent a direct threat to the research enterprise. I would greatly appreciate your work to undo these restrictions. Starting with the Fall 2020 semester, international students attending schools that operate entirely online will not be allowed to remain in the USA and will be required to leave the USA despite the pandemic. This executive action both puts researchers and students in harm’s way and works against ournational economic competitiveness. We appreciate any efforts your office can make to overturn these restrictions in any legislative actions that arise in the months ahead.”
7 July 2020