AAAL Commitment to International Diversity and Exchange of Ideas

The American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL) is a professional organization which facilitates the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and understanding regarding language-related issues in order to improve the lives of individuals and conditions in society. The Executive Order, signed by the President of the United States on January 27, 2017, banned entry into the United States for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, seriously hindering the goals of our organization. Although this ban has been put on hold by federal appeals courts, the current administration has indicated that they will continue to issue similar Executive Orders.

A ban that targets specific religious, ethnic, or national groups has irreparable consequences for the intellectual, educational, and scientific pursuits of AAAL and its members. AAAL members come from more than fifty countries around the world; a third of its membership is from outside the United States; and a large proportion of U.S.-based members are international students and scholars. Our members regularly engage in the exchange of knowledge and skills internationally. The travel ban, if reinstated, would have a direct impact on our members who work and live in the United States as well as those who travel to the United States to participate in academic forums and to conduct research.

In its practical implementation and through the ideological message it sends, the Executive Order has already compromised the ability of U.S. higher education to attract and retain international students and scholars, resulting in the loss of the rich diversity of perspectives, of linguistic and cultural resources, and of the scholarly knowledge and skills these individuals contribute.
The field of applied linguistics has long recognized that language is interconnected with the values, beliefs, and norms that a society shares. By singling out a specific group of people, the Executive Order and any similar ban will promote xenophobia, discrimination, and prejudice while restricting the free and open exchange of ideas and the linguistic and cultural diversity that our field values. AAAL opposes any Executive Order or legislation that undermines these goals and values of our membership.

This Position Statement may be disseminated without permission from AAAL.
Approved April 27, 2017