At a time when anti-immigration rhetoric is at an all-time high, it’s imperative we look at the bigger picture.
“I think the United States is what it is today largely because of open borders.”
That comment comes from Scottish-born naturalized U.S. citizen Sir J. Fraser Stoddart. When he said this to The Hill, he’d just won the Nobel Prize for chemistry.
This statement was bold, especially in an election year where the topic of immigration has been a hot-button issue filled with troublesome rhetoric.
Stoddart had a good reason for the comment: All six American Nobel laureates in science announced so far this year are immigrants.
Every year, the Nobel Foundation awards this prestigious honor to the most innovative scientists, writers, researchers, and peace-builders around the world for their outstanding contributions in the world of physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine, literature, and peace.
Stoddart was recognized for his breakthrough research in creating new ways to energize and steer molecules that could revolutionize how we treat illnesses and help develop more powerful computers.
The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Duncan M. Haldane, who is British; David Thouless, also Scottish; and Michael Kosterlitz, who is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, and was born to Jewish refugees who fled Hitler’s Germany. Their theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter could have a tremendous impact in electronics and computing.
Finally, Oliver Hart is from Britain, and Bengt Holmström is from Finland. Both are being recognized for their contributions to economics.
(On Oct. 13, 2016, the foundation also announced that beloved singer-songwriter Bob Dylan earned the coveted Nobel Prize for literature for “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Not too shabby, America!)
This science lineup is a big deal, especially now.
At a time when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is taking an unapologetically tough stance on immigration by proposing “extreme vetting” (and promising to build a massive wall and deport undocumented immigrants who are already here), this award lineup speaks volumes about why we need inclusive immigration policies.
It proves we can greatly benefit from inviting immigrants into our country. It shows that when we abandon our fear of differences, we’ll find that folks from other places have a lot to offer in terms of science, education, and technological advances.
These six winners are literally making the world a better place.
As Stoddart pointed out to The Hill, America’s incredible scientific progress can remain strong “as long as we don’t enter an era where we turn our back on immigration.”
These Nobel Prize winners make an excellent and irrefutable case for nurturing our immigration system.
“I think the resounding message that should go out all around the world is that science is global,” Stoddart said.
It’s imperative we look at the bigger picture instead of just focusing on the negative aspects of immigration. Many of our amazing and impressive scientific innovations are here because of immigration.
We can accomplish amazing things when we have no barriers — physical or otherwise.