Muslim Ban and Visas for Researchers

Given the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that aims to revoke visas to nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations, what is your professional society doing to further support conference travel to the USA?

This is my story as a non-Muslim Australian. I’m sharing it as a minor example of the confusion and possible ramifications of the “Muslim ban” on academics. The broader context is much more perilous for Muslims who have a concrete fear for their lives and future under President Trump.  

I was invited to speak at a conference in honour of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The event, Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media – From Vision to Action, was held on February 10th, 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, USA. Gender equity in science and academia is a field in which I’ve long worked, researched and volunteered, including in a previous role where I implemented and managed a national program to increase gender equity and diversity in science. I was invited to discuss my public writing on women in science. I was excited.

In preparation for this travel, I applied for the visa waiver program in January, as is my right as an Australian citizen. This program should provide automatic approval for people holding an electronic Australian passport. That’s me. I received an automatic message when I applied that I was not auto approved but that I’d hear an outcome within 72 hours, as is the maximum waiting period for this service. The time came and went and there was no response. I have not been denied a visa, I have simply not been granted one and not given a reason.

Then the Muslim ban was in full effect. Sixty thousand visas were revoked immediately on the first weekend. This had a massive impact on Muslims and their families who were kept from entering the USA, some of whom were locked in detention facilities. At least one woman who died after  being denied entry back into the USA.

Academics were among those affected and thousands of scientists have responded.

stay on the ban has been in effect since 28 January, implemented by U.S. District Judge Ann M. Donnelly. The stay was sustained by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals until Judge Donnelly can fully investigate the case.  

Amidst all this, my visa application was in limbo. This is small potatoes in the broader context, but I share my story because, potentially, this illustrates how systemic issues may be affecting visa processing.  

Visa

Given the United Nations conference was imminent, I followed up to see why my visa application was delayed. I first enquired electronically. I received a message saying it would be at least three months before I’d hear back. Then I called the the USA visa office in Australia. I couldn’t see the issue as I’ve travelled to other countries in Europe, Asia and New Zealand. I was told to contact the USA Homeland Security and given a USA phone number.

No thank you.

I was born in South America. I have lived in Australia since I was a young child. There are no Latin nations on the unlawful Muslim ban list, nor have I travelled to these nations; I’ve simply never had the opportunity. Not that it should matter, given the positive contributions Muslims have made to Australia, America and the rest of the world. I am not Muslim—again, this should be inconsequential as it is not a crime to be Muslim. The United Nations sees religious freedom as a basic human right. Moreover, Australian dual national are supposed to be exempt from the ban.

Regardless the stay means the ban should not be enforced. Nevertheless, there have already been reports of cases where students are being denied entry into the USA.

As academic friends have pointed out, President Trump has disbanded key roles that may be affecting how administrative offices are being managed and resourced, perhaps including those overseeing visa processing. In answer to a friend’s question: yes first name is a common Muslim name that is unusual in both my country of birth and in Australia. My second name reflects my Spanish-speaking origins. It should go without saying but names shouldn’t be cause for suspicion.

What other factors may have affected the visa delay? The Trump government is currently conducting an unprecedented campaign to deport undocumented migrants that goes beyond the Obama Administration’s callous tactics. This especially targets Americans of Latin American origin. The Trump Administration continues to promise the building of a new wall between the USA and Mexico. Are Latins suspect short-term visa applicants too?

Though this situation raises painful memories of the life-long discrimination I have suffered as a woman of colour, it is still nothing compared to what Muslims are going through.

So if the waiver program causes an unclear and long delay for a one-day conference to me, a mid-career PhD-holding Latin-Australian sociologist, how might it affect other scholars?

Head to my blog to read more about the Muslim ban, and what sociological and other science associations are doing to address it, as well as what else may need to be considered. 


Images: Zuleyka Zevallos.

  1. A woman holds up sign with the Australian flag visible in the background. Message reads: No hate no fear, everyone is welcome here.
  2. Among a group of protesters at the Women’s March Sydney, a woman holds the sign that reads: Trump Uphold Human Rights for All.

Muslim Ban and Visas for Researchers

Trump Uphold Human Rights for ALL

Update: a few days after going public with this story, which especially received a lot of attention on Twitter and Google+, I received an email saying that my visa waiver was approved. It came one month after I’d initially applied, and too late to attend the United Nations conference.

Given the Trump Administration’s Executive Order that aims to revoke visas to nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations, what is your professional society doing to further support conference travel to the USA?

This is my story as a non-Muslim Australian. I’m sharing it as a minor example of the confusion and possible ramifications of the “Muslim ban” on academics. The broader context is much more perilous for Muslims who have a concrete fear for their lives and future under President Trump. As my blog has a strong focus on enhancing social justice in academic and applied research settings, and sociological responses to social change, these are the dual topics of this post. The bigger picture beyond considerations for academic travel is more insidious.

I was invited to speak at a conference in honour of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The event, Gender, Science and Sustainable Development: The Impact of Media – From Vision to Action, was held on February 10th, 2017 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, USA. Gender equity in science and academia is a field in which I’ve long worked, researched and volunteered, including in a previous role where I implemented and managed a national program to increase gender equity and diversity in science. I was invited to discuss my public writing on women in science. I was excited.

In preparation for this travel, I applied for the visa waiver program in January, as is my right as an Australian citizen. This program should provide automatic approval for people holding an electronic Australian passport. That’s me. I received an automatic message when I applied that I was not auto approved but that I’d hear an outcome within 72 hours, as is the maximum waiting period for this service. The time came and went and there was no response. I have not been denied a visa, I have simply not been granted one and not given a reason.

Then the Muslim ban was in full effect. Let me provide the background and how scientists have responded, before I tell you more on what happened to me, and what research organisations may need to consider in terms of academic conferences.

Continue reading Muslim Ban and Visas for Researchers

Stop Australia’s Lifetime Ban of Refugees

PLEASE SHARE: This coming Tuesday 7 February 2017, Australia is set to introduce a LIFETIME BAN on refugees who arrive by boat. This will affect all people seeking asylum who arrived after 19 July 2013. This law is cruel and inhumane. It contravenes Australia’s international responsibility under the United Nations Refugee Convention 1951. Australia’s treatment of refugees has been condemned by the United Nations and by the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014.

My regular readers would know that Australia has been imprisoning refugees indefinitely in offshore detention centres since 2001. This new law would mean all those still in detention and other people seeking asylum by boat will never be allowed their human right to find safety in Australia.

Why is the ban for “boat refugees” only? The biggest groups of refugees come by air. People arriving by boat make up the minority of asylum seekers! They are the poorest from our region. They are also predominantly from Muslim-majority nations. This law represents racial discrimination by the state.

How you can stop this!

It’s not too late to make a difference! Australians, call, email or use social media to appeal to the cross-benchers below. For readers outside of Australia – Australians stand up for injustices internationally, as I have done for many conflicts and unfair political decisions outside of my country. Please take action, even if it’s just a social media post!

If you call or post on Facebook, see the suggested script below by RISE

If you tweet, you could use this text:

.@XXX the proposal of impose a lifetime ban on refugees goes against our humanity. Please vote NO to this proposal #blockthebill

***

Senator Derryn Hinch
(02) 6277 3168
1300 498 035
Senator.Hinch@aph.gov.au

Facebook. Twitter: @HumanHeadline 

***

Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore
(02) 6277 3178
(08) 8232 0440
Senator.Kakoschke-Moore@aph.gov.au 

Facebook. Twitter: @SenatorSkye 

***

Senator David Leyonhjelm
(02) 6277 3054
1300 884 092
Senator.Leyonhjelm@aph.gov.au

Facebook.

Twitter:

@DavidLeyonhjelm

***

Senator Stirling Griff
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115
Senator.Griff@aph.gov.au

Facebook.

Twitter:

@Stirling_G 

***

Senator Jacqui Lambie
(02) 6277 3063
(03) 6431 2233
Senator.Lambie@aph.gov.au

 

Facebook.

Twitter:

@JacquiLambie

***

Senator Nick Xenophon
(02) 6277 3713
1300 556 115
nickxenophon.com.au

Facebook.

Twitter:

@Nick_Xenophon

***

Suggested script for call:

“Hi my name is …(name, if comfortable disclosing).. and I am calling from …(location)… I would like to express my concern and discontent with the proposal of imposing a lifetime ban on refugees. This goes against the Refugee Convention and International Law. It also goes against our humanity and morality as we should be assisting those in need of protection. Please vote NO to this proposal or you will lose my vote” 


[Images: 1) two hands

crossed

the wrist, making the “x” or “no” sign, with text: Australia #BlockTheBill. Say no to lifetime ban of refugees. 2) Black background with text: Cross-bench senators. Their names, email and phone numbers are then listed as above.]

Credits:

Images and other ways to help: RISE.  Post: The Other Sociologist.

The President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), Professor Margaret Abraham, has addressed the Executive Order by USA President Donald Trump. The Order suspends visas to people born in seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. Professor Abraham writes in the ISA newsletter

“We need to reflect, respond and recognize our responsibility as sociologists to address what is happening on the ground in these grim times and strive to address injustice… I’m confident that sociologists can play a key role in the formidable task of reviving hope and crafting a better future in an inclusive and just world.”  – Prof Margaret Abraham, President, International Sociological Association.


[Image: two open palms painted like a world atlas, with the above quote overlaid] 

Quote: ISA. Image: Sociology at Work.