MESA - Middle East Studies Association

Travel Ban Impact Survey

March 7, 2017

Dear Colleagues,  

In light of the past and present executive orders limiting or banning the entry of foreign nationals from Muslim-majority countries, MESA is collecting information from current and former MESA members, and other scholars of the MENA region, in order to determine how we might, as an association, work to protect the interests of scholars in our field.

We would like to hear from students and faculty, whether U.S. citizens, green card holders, or visa holders, about how the old and new regulations have impacted you or will impact you. The more stories we can collect, the better our ability to identify a range of measures that MESA may be able to take to assist members. What follows are suggested questions. Please elaborate on your particular experience.

  • How have the executive orders impacted your general and summer research plans? Are you unable to travel to do field work or to work in archives or libraries?
  • How have the regulations impacted collaborative research, the willingness of colleagues abroad to accept invitations for speaking engagements, and attendance at conferences?
  • If you previously came to the U.S. on the Visa Interview Waiver Program (i.e., waiver of an interview to have your visa renewed), what has your experience been trying to renew your visa in light of the suspension of that program? How long has it taken?
  • Have you decided not to travel to the U.S. because of the new regulations, regardless of whether your country of birth or residence is included in the previous or current ban or not?
  • Did you decide not to submit a proposal for the upcoming MESA annual conference because of concerns related to travel to the U.S.?
  • Have you decided not to renew your MESA membership, or to join, because you do not want to travel to the U.S. at this time?
  • Have you had any encounters with government agents at border crossings that you found to be abusive, unnecessary, excessive either by physical force, intimidation or language and if so please describe.
  • Have you experienced extensive secondary screening resulting in significant delay in your admission to the country? Have you had any encounters where there was confusion on the part of agents about how to proceed, what could be done or not; please describe in detail. 
  • Have you been questioned about your religious practices or beliefs upon entering the U.S.? Was the question of religion raised in any way during any encounter with officials at the border?
  • If you are a green card or visa holder, were you ever asked to agree to “voluntary” relinquishment of your visa, lawful permanent residence status or other permission to enter? If so, where did this occur and what were the circumstances?
  • Have you been denied entry? How has this impacted you financially and how has it impacted your family?

We would be very grateful for your participation in answering any relevant questions. Please respond in as much detail as possible to survey@mesana.org. Feel free to contact the MESA board (board@mesana.org) with any questions.

Sincerely,

Beth Baron, MESA President



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