Letter about PAMLA Resolution for Freedom of International Communication and Scholarly Travel

Programs addressed: 
U.S. Executive Order 13780, initiated by President Donald J. Trump on March 6, 2017
Sent to: 
President Donald J. Trump
Date of letter: 
November 11, 2017

PAMLA Resolution for Freedom of International Communication and Scholarly Travel

President Donald J. Trump initiated Executive Order 13780 on March 6, 2017, restricting the citizens of six Muslim-majority nations including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entry into the United States of America. We, the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA), have already seen the negative impact of this executive order, with a number of our conference attendees from abroad being denied visas, and others choosing not to apply for fear of visa difficulties. We are deeply concerned that PAMLA’s core mission, “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of ancient and modern languages and literatures,” is threatened by the travel ban, which impedes scholars’ ability to cross national lines and thus participate fully in international intellectual communities.

PAMLA’s mission entails the study and transmission of diverse historical, linguistic, literary, or cultural studies. Therefore, PAMLA and the broader scholarly community is harmed by policies that restrict intercultural and international scholarly communication. When international scholars are barred from joining us at the annual PAMLA conference, that harms us all. It is counterproductive to our desire for open discussion, cultural and intellectual exchange, and collaboration among scholars from all over the world.

While PAMLA generally refrains from making political statements, we feel the impact of this policy on our mission as a scholarly organization requires us to speak out. The members of PAMLA 1) protest the unequal treatment of our fellow academics from any nation; 2) advocate for keeping intellectual and artistic networks free and open; and 3) defend the rights of those who wish to travel abroad to share ideas beyond national borders. We will not be tacitly complicit in the closing of global or international communication and thought, or remain silent in the face of a policy that is detrimental to our profession and our intellectual values.

We therefore call for a commitment to defending the rights of all peoples to travel for the purposes of scholarly research and the sharing of knowledge, regardless of nationality or creed. Given our dedication to encouraging and supporting a vibrant global community of thinkers, and given the fact that PAMLA members have been barred entry to this year’s conference as a result of the current executive order, or were dissuaded from applying to the conference in the first place, we urge the administration, Congress, and the courts to revoke, modify, or supersede this executive order. We stand against this and similar immigration or travel policies, expressing our commitment to the importance of free transmission of ideas and reasonable freedom of movement for all peoples, including professors, students, scholars, and public intellectuals.

Resolution approved by vote of PAMLA members at November 11, 2017 Annual General Membership Meeting, Chaminade University of Honolulu