Statement Regarding Revised US Travel Restrictions
On January 28, 2017, ASOR posted on its website a response outlining our reservations about the Executive Order issued by the United States Government on January 27, 2017, which restricted entry of citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States. As is well known, many other individuals and organizations also voiced concerns, and implementation of the Executive Order was blocked shortly thereafter, on February 3, 2017, by court order.
Yesterday, on March 6, 2017, the US administration issued a revised Executive Order, which again puts into place policies that will restrict entry into the United States for citizens of six of the seven countries identified in the original Executive Order. ASOR is pleased that Iraq -- a country with which ASOR has deep and long-standing ties -- is no longer included in the language of the Executive Order. We are also pleased that the new Executive Order applies only to applicants for new visas, not those who already hold visas for entry into the United States nor permanent residents of the United States who hold valid green cards. The new Executive Order also contains provisions for waivers that the previous Executive Order did not, including waivers for students and professionals -- including, we hope, students and scholars whose research is focused, as is ASOR's, on the world of the Near East and wider Mediterranean.
Nevertheless, ASOR continues to take exception to the provisions put forward in the new Executive Order, for the same reasons articulated in our January 28, 2017, statement. More specifically, as remarked there, we take exception to restrictions imposed on whole citizenries of countries in the Middle East and Africa, especially because ASOR is proud to claim many citizens of the countries in question as members, colleagues, and friends. Many of ASOR's members from elsewhere, moreover, have spent extended time in the countries affected by, or potentially affected by, both the original Executive Order of January 27, 2017, and the revised Executive Order of March 6, 2017, and have appreciated deeply the generous welcome they have been extended by the ASOR members, colleagues, and friends who are resident there. These ASOR members from elsewhere -- and in particular ASOR’s members in the United States -- want only to extend the same warm and generous hospitality to ASOR's Middle East and African affiliates in their travels to the United States.
The members of ASOR also emphatically and unreservedly affirm that among our core values is the conviction that personal and cultural engagement and exchange among all of ASOR's members and affiliates — including ASOR members, colleagues, and friends in the United States and ASOR members, colleagues, and friends in the countries affected by the original the revised Executive Orders — are of inestimable benefit in promoting peaceful relations in our often troubled world. Indeed, it is our unwavering conviction that ASOR’s worldwide community of archaeologists, historians, linguists, and cultural heritage professionals who work together in countries such as Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and throughout the Near East and wider Mediterranean, are among those global ambassadors best able to promote understanding, mutual respect, and relationships of true well-being among our many nations.
ASOR, in short, asserts that security and safety for all concerned flow from the alliances and goodwill that our members and affiliates have cultivated in our many years of working together as friends and colleagues in the Near East and wider Mediterranean. ASOR's US members stand ready to share with the United States Government accounts of their experiences working with colleagues from countries named in the original and revised Executive Orders, in order to describe how these interactions can foster healthy and productive relations between the United States and the nations in question. ASOR's US members are particularly prepared to share accounts of their experiences with the United States Government during the seventy-day period beginning on March 16, 2016, during which, according to Subsections (b) and (d) of Section (2) of the March 6, 2017, Executive Order, policies regarding restrictions or limitations on entry to the United States by foreign nationals will be further considered.
Our goal in promoting this dialogue remains the same as it was in our January 28, 2017, statement: to encourage the United States Government to articulate policies that foster, rather than undermine, the partnerships and collaborations among peoples across nations that we at ASOR hold most dear.
To see ASOR's original statement, dated January 28, 2017, click here.
President, American Schools of Oriental Research
Preston H. Kelsey Professor of Religion, Dartmouth College