San Diego Research Community: ICE Proposal Threatens Scientific Progress

Next week, the Department of Homeland Security will review the contents of a proposal, ICEB-2019-0006, issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Bureau (ICE), that seeks to limit the stay of an international scholar in the U.S. to either two or four years. The potentially devastating impact of this proposal, if implemented, is of such magnitude that the undersigned leaders of San Diego’s biomedical research institutions are standing together to voice alarm.

Scientific research—critical to human health and the creation of new medicines—is, by its very nature, a global enterprise. Knowledge is regularly shared across geographic borders, between institutional campuses and throughout diverse laboratories. The people who populate these laboratories come from all parts of the world, driven to come to America to join others in a united quest to solve a particular scientific problem. A significant percentage of these international scholars are graduate students and postdocs, young scientists just embarking on a research career.

This new proposal from ICE places an unnecessary financial and bureaucratic hurdle in their path. Depending on their country of origin, each international scholar will have to apply for an extension every two to four years with thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket cost—with no guarantee of approval. If enacted, this proposal will not only hobble their careers and their contributions, it will interrupt and even stall the years-long scientific investigations undertaken by each of our institutes. These investigations are expanding human knowledge and leading to new treatments that improve human health. If our research teams are handicapped by ICEB-2019-0006, scientific progress will stumble while diseases continue to have a tragic toll.

The United States has long been the world leader in many types of scientific research, which has greatly stimulated our economy while benefiting our citizens. Ultimately, this ICE proposal threatens America’s position as a global leader in innovative, impactful scientific research.

The Department of Homeland Security is accepting public comments on this proposal until October 26, just days away. Each of our institutes will be registering our opinions. We urge you to register yours as well:

Signed by the following leadership:

Peter Schultz, PhD
President & CEO
Scripps Research

Mitchell Kronenberg, PhD
President & Chief Scientific Officer
La Jolla Institute for Immunology

Rusty Gage, PhD
Salk Institute

Kristiina Vuori, MD, PhD
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute