Monday, January 30, 2017

Statement on the “Muslim Ban”

Dear fellow astronomers,

Three days ago, the POTUS signed an executive order to initiate a 90-day immigration suspension for all people born in the following Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. These countries are majority Muslim, making this ban unconstitutional on the grounds of religious freedom. The impact of this order is further exacerbated by the public call to prioritize cases involving Christians, which sends the signal that this is faith-based discrimination.

The “Muslim Ban” has already caused immigrants, even those with permanent residency in the U.S., to be detained at airports all around the country without due process, without food or water in some cases, and without rightful access to their lawyers. On Saturday, a petition from the American Civil Liberties Union led U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly to successfully block a portion of the executive order, forbidding the U.S. government from deporting any “lawful” immigrants arriving after the ban was issued. However, immigrants from those countries are still prohibited from entering the U.S.

These discriminatory acts are detrimental to our Muslim colleagues in a variety of ways. Public stigma may prevent those already in the U.S. from traveling safely within the country while the ban forbids them from traveling abroad, potentially missing interviews, conferences, observing runs, and of course preventing them from being united with family members outside the U.S. Likewise, colleagues from these seven aforementioned countries will be restricted from exercising professional and personal activities on U.S. soil. Above all, the mental, physical, and emotional toll that will be experienced by our Muslim colleagues is damaging their safety, work and livelihood.

As members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), we vehemently oppose this ban, a discriminatory act by the U.S. government against our Muslim students, colleagues and friends. We stand with all Muslim people and extend our solidarity to our Muslim colleagues in Astronomy. We will do whatever we can to support and protect you.

Dr. Nicole Cabrera Salazar
Prof. Jorge Moreno
Dr. Lia Corrales
Charee Peters
Prof. Jillian Bellovary
Prof. John Asher Johnson
Prof. Kim Coble
Prof. Adam Burgasser
Prof. Alyson Brooks

The above signatories are private citizens exercising their constitutional right to express their personal views. This is not an official statement by the American Astronomical Society nor the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy and should not be construed as such.

Links and resources
Prof. Jorge Moreno, CSMA Chair (csmachairmoreno AT