Photonics at the border
One of the biggest concerns for many companies and individuals in photonics is that the travel ban may be a first step in limiting foreign-born students and workers in the U.S.
The contrast was striking between the open, vibrant, and international SPIE Photonics West—with its networking and exchange of technical and product information—and the political and economic constrictions being unveiled in the wider world, specifically the uncertainty associated with trade and immigration. To those of us in the global photonics community, the uncertainty is alarming and, in the case of immigration, threatening, as colleagues from some nations were barred from attending the San Francisco conference by a travel ban that, at the time of this writing, is being challenged in the U.S. courts.
In rare political statements, OSA joined with over 160 scientific, engineering, and academic organizations in urging the President to rescind the executive order on immigration and visas, declaring it damaging to scientific progress, innovation, and U.S. science and engineering capacity. SPIE wrote a letter to the President expressing concerns regarding the executive order and offering to assist in working with the administration to develop policies that provide the necessary security checks at U.S. borders without inhibiting international scientific collaboration.
One of the biggest concerns for many companies and individuals is that this travel ban may be a first step in limiting foreign-born students and workers in the U.S. Whether or not this is a reasonable fear, it's an example of the effect of this sudden policy change. Personal political views vary widely within the photonics community, understandably. But I think most of us can agree with the sentiments expressed in the OSA and SPIE letters that, whatever the intent of the executive order, a fair and well-planned implementation of immigration policy is essential to both national security and international cooperation.
Please let me know what you think on this issue, or contact your members of Congress, OSA, or SPIE. You can also volunteer to join the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) for its annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC, on April 25-26, 2017. More information may be found on the NPI website (www.lightourfuture.org/home/get-involved/congressional-visits).
Editor in Chief