President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries threatens to rob America's medical research community of its most brilliant minds, a group of biotech leaders wrote Tuesday.
The letter was signed by 165 biopharma company leaders and posted at the website Nature Biotechnology.
"Our people include researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, and business executives from all over the world," the letter read. "They are colleagues in our laboratories, management teams and boardrooms. They discover and develop therapies that drive US biomedical innovation and deliver new medicines to patients, not only in America, but also across the globe. And they start companies that drive the economic growth and employment provided by biotech."
Many of the scientists who come from other countries end up becoming American citizens, which benefits the United States, they wrote.
While the United States leads the world in medicine production, part of that success is due to its ability to attract the best minds from around the world, the letter continued.
"At a stroke, the new administration has compromised years of investment in this national treasure," they say. "Our colleagues who are here on visas or are in global outposts are now fearful and uncertain of their status. Scientists based in other countries and employed by our companies are afraid to come to the United States or are canceling trips. The parents and families of immigrants who live and work in the United States are reluctant to attempt to travel to and from the United States."
Though the ban is temporary (and currently on hold following a federal court ruling), and affects people from only seven countries with terror ties, "our global employees interpret the underlying message as, 'America is no longer welcoming of any immigrants, whatsoever,'" the letter read.
"They fear similar orders could be issued for other countries at a moment's notice. They fear being stigmatized and discriminated against, simply because of their religion, irrespective of the nation they come from. Several among us have heard from employees about their deportation fears, how they do not feel comfortable leaving the country on business or how they now feel cut off from their family abroad."
While all countries have the right to determine who enters and must also be vigilant in protecting itself against terrorism, Trump's actions "were poorly conceived and implemented," the letter says. "If this misguided policy is not reversed, America is at risk of losing its leadership position in one of its most important sectors, one that will shape the world in the 21st century."
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