INSAR, the International Society for Autism Research, holds an annual conference for researchers around the world to gather and present the latest in autism related results. IMFAR (the International Meeting For Autism Research) has since it’s inception also been very inclusive of community members. Autistics, parents, providers of supports and therapies are all welcome at IMFAR.
The president of INSAR has put out message stating that the Society has to reevaluate their plans to hold meetings in the U.S.. That message can be read here, on the INSAR website. Here is part of the message:
As an organization, we must think carefully about whether to host future international meetings for autism research in the United States. As an international society, it would be inappropriate to hold the largest annual meeting on autism research in any country that restricts access to our colleagues worldwide.
As the Board of Directors of INSAR, we are unanimous in our denunciation of restrictive immigration policies that will impact researchers, students, and persons with autism and their families. The INSAR Board of Directors will be bringing these concerns to the attention of policy makers and the public. As members of INSAR, we encourage you to do so as well.
While it is an international meeting, IMFAR is quite often held in the U.S.. The most recent meetings were held in Baltimore (2016), Salt Lake City (2015) and Atlanta (2014), with the next meeting in San Francisco. Next year IMFAR will be in The Netherlands and then in Canada before returning to the U.S.. But you get the picture: the U.S. hosts this meeting quite a lot. Which means it is more accessible to American stakeholders and American researchers and it helps jobs and the economy in American cities.
But as an international conference it attracts people from around the world. When the U.S. suddenly imposes travel restrictions, people attending scientific conferences can be kept out. The next IMFAR is in May, meaning people have already made plans to attend.
Put simply, here is an example of a poorly thought out action that may cost Americans opportunities and money.
Another discussion of this can be read at Forbes, in an article by Emily Willingham: International Autism Research Society Denounces Trump’s Immigration Restrictions.
By Matt Carey