If Donald Trump needs an example of the contributions America’s immigrants are making, he should probably look at this year’s Nobel Prize winners. Every American who won a Nobel Prize in a science field happened to be an immigrant.
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to F. Duncan M. Haldane, J. Michael Kosterlitz and David J. Thouless for “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” All three were born in the U.K. and went on to work at universities in the U.S.
A backlash against immigrants has been a constant topic of debate in the 2016 U.S. election, as well as a major issue in the Brexit debate. The fact that the United States is making strides in scientific fields on the work of immigrants trumps the negativity painted by many conservatives, in the eyes of Sir J Fraser Stoddart, Scottish-born, naturalized American citizen and 2016 Nobel Chemistry Prize winner. ”I think the United States is what it is today largely because of open borders” said Stoddart. “I think the resounding message that should go out all around the world is that science is global.”
While Trump’s focus has been mostly on sealing the border between the U.S. and Mexico with a wall and blocking the entry of Muslims from certain Middle Eastern countries, such news probably doesn’t please his campaign managers.
The U.K. has had a spat of racially-motivated hate crimes in recent months following June’s EU referendum. Stoddart went on to say how crucial it is now to confront these issues, adding the importance “to have these discussions in view of the political climate on both sides of the pond at the moment.” On the U.S. side of the pond, the issue of immigration came up again during last Sunday night’s debate, when Hillary Clinton recounted the story of an Ethiopian-born child who asked his adoptive U.S. parents whether he’d be sent back to a country he had no knowledge of, if Trump became president.
It’s possible that Trump’s campaign will try to divert the issue by saying that the winners were men who immigrated from the U.K., and not Mexico or the Middle East. As Stoddart sees it though, that excuse simply doesn’t hold up and the U.S. would not be the scientific trailblazer that it is today without its open immigration policy. “I think the United States is what it is today largely because of open borders,” said Stoddart. The scientist went on to add that it’s his belief that the American scientific community has a strong future “as long as we don’t enter an era where we turn our back on immigration,” and that the U.S. should be “welcoming people from all over the world, including the Middle East.”
This year’s Nobel Prize sweep by immigrants isn’t a onetime fluke either. According to the Independent, American immigrants have won 31 of the 78 Nobel Prizes in chemistry, medicine and physics since 2000. Should our immigration policy drastically change in the next four years, our country can kiss some of those future Nobel Prize awards goodbye.