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Travel Ban Remains Unjustified

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September 25, 2017

Travel Ban Remains Unjustified
AAA continues its call for immediate dismissal

The administration’s new travel order continuing restrictions on foreign nationals seeking visas from Iran, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria, all Muslim-majority countries, is yet another step in the wrong direction. It represents a cynical attempt to circumvent the judicial system’s legal prohibitions against discriminating on the basis of religious affiliation or national origin. In addition to retaining all but one of the Muslim-majority countries that the administration originally targeted for discrimination, it adds yet another Muslim-majority country (Chad), and seeks a smokescreen of Venezuelan diplomats and North Korean visitors to support a dubious claim that religious affiliation is not the issue. These restrictions distinguish between “immigrants” and visitors, but send the same chilling message regardless: “the current administration says you are not welcome here.”

As we have noted on the occasion of the earlier travel bans pushed by this administration, anthropology is dedicated to making the world safe for cultural differences. Our scholarship helps advance understanding by taking the long and comparative view of human behavior. From our perspective, this executive order serves no useful purpose and dramatically reverses decades of precedent without any apparent careful consideration for the violation of human rights of refugees and immigrants and of the prospect for potentially dangerous consequences.

This new set of restrictions continues to place scholars, students and practitioners in anthropology and other disciplines in serious jeopardy. As AAA President Alisse Waterston noted earlier to our friends and colleagues around the world, “we feel compelled to emphasize this administration’s actions still do not reflect the views of a majority or even a plurality of the American people. This government’s xenophobic rhetoric of nationalism is ill-informed and hate-filled. Its policies and practices must be based on knowledge gained from systematic observation. To do otherwise places human rights and the rule of law in peril. We must continue to watch closely, and hold this administration accountable for remaining within the guide rails of truth and justice.”

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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.

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