Texas Tech University

How Trump's Travel Ban Can Upend Lives of Scientists Like Me

Abraham Al-Ahmad

February 13, 2017

Scientific American - I was about to book a trip to Berlin for a neuroscience meeting when I heard the news: President Donald Trump had issued an executive order barring citizens from seven countries from entering the United States. I have lived in the U.S. for more than seven years and I have a green card. But I have dual citizenship in France and Syria, one of the blocked countries.

It took me a while to realize the true impact of the order, issued 27 January. At first, my thoughts were on the Berlin meeting, called BRAIN 2017. It was an important opportunity to present my work on a stem cell model of stroke. I hoped feedback from the meeting would help me to publish in a high-impact journal and secure a grant. I was excited to represent my institution, Texas Tech University in Amarillo, Texas, and my country, the U.S. But if I went to the meeting, I wouldn't be allowed back home.

As the weekend unfolded, I realized the order affected much more than my conference plans. Some researchers had been traveling when the order was issued and were barred from re-entering the country. Students arriving on visas were turned away.

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