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Rockefeller statement on executive order suspending visas

The Office of the President today issued the statement below to all Rockefeller University employees.

President Donald J. Trump’s ill-conceived executive order to suspend the issuing of temporary visas for foreign workers, including H1-B and J-1 visas, is detrimental to the advance of science and human health. This order is a self-inflicted wound to the country that serves no useful purpose. These visas allow scientific research institutions like Rockefeller, as well as science and technology-related companies, to recruit the best scientists from around the world to contribute to U.S. institutions and businesses; these individuals play a vital role in sustaining America’s technological prowess and economic strength. This order directly affects Rockefeller’s ability to fulfill our mission of conducting science for the benefit of humanity, and has similar impact across the country.

In addition, the order will impede the critical work underway to develop new treatments to alleviate the global COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of its stated exception for those working on COVID-19 research, new knowledge about the virus will emerge from basic science laboratories devoted to immunology, genomics, structural biology, biochemistry, and other fields that are not immediately related to COVID-19 research.

The U.S. economy, which is highly dependent on continued advances in science and technology, has benefitted spectacularly by attracting the world’s brightest talents by these visa mechanisms, many of whom go on to start or contribute to innovative companies in the U.S. that will create jobs and promote economic growth. Aside from undermining this country’s long-standing ideals, it is hard to imagine an executive order that is both so unnecessary and that has more potential to damage one of this country’s greatest sources of innovation and economic strength.