After an eight month delay, Iranian scientist and Harvard affiliate Seyed S. S. Saravi finally arrived in Cambridge, ready to begin his research at Harvard Medical School. In the face of delays and visa difficulties caused by President Trump’s travel ban last January, Saravi’s persistent journey is one we should all keep in mind as we consider the detrimental effects of the ban on not just Harvard affiliates, but refugees and immigrants around the world.
Although the travel ban has faced numerous legal challenges since January, the Trump administration has not backed down. The ban’s latest iteration will be implemented starting on Oct. 18 and will heavily limit or ban immigrants from eight countries, six of which are majority Muslim. Although refugees are not included in this iteration, the administration has signaled that the United States will accept fewer refugees than it has for years.
As we have opined in the past, Trump’s travel ban is not only deeply discriminatory but also a challenge to our fundamental American ideals of promise and opportunity. The ban fails to achieve its professed goal of promoting national security. Immigrants and refugees are already strictly vetted, and foreign nationals from the affected countries have not been a major source of terrorism on United States soil. Instead, the travel ban plays on discriminatory, anti-Muslim fears. It shuts out refugees and immigrants who often apply and wait for years, hoping for security and opportunity. The revisions have changed nothing—the ban remains fundamentally immoral.
Saravi’s story, then, exemplifies how harmful the travel ban has been. His previously-approved visa was suspended following Trump’s executive order, and he spent months working to re-obtain a visa for himself and his wife. There is no doubt that his scientific contributions will benefit medicine and potentially save lives. Not having Saravi is a loss for our country.
We are heartened that Saravi has been able to come to Harvard Medical School, and we commend him for his persistence in the face of difficulty. We are grateful for his important research, which will aid many, and we wish him all the best moving forward. However, his story also underscores the difficulties that other people—who do not have the resources or the backing of an elite university such as Harvard—may face in entering the United States. Even as we have an obligation to support members of our own community, we must continue to use our social and political capital to speak for others as well.
We hope to see more talented international academics, researchers, and students apply to join and contribute to the Harvard community, and we encourage them not to hesitate in the face of hostility from the Trump administration.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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