Openness, Diversity and Dignity: a Foundation for Global Collaboration

A statement from Project Jupyter regarding the January 27 United States Executive Order on immigration

A statement of principles

Project Jupyter is an open, international collaboration that builds open-source software used by millions in research, education, industry, media and beyond. It has received funding from private individuals, philanthropic foundations, US companies and government agencies from the US and the EU. Its software has been developed openly by hundreds of people, from many nations, creeds, and walks of life.

We, the Project Jupyter Steering Council, see the January 27 United States Executive Order on immigration as deeply disturbing and an affront to principles we hold dear. By targeting Muslims, immigrants and refugees from a few countries, the complete, abrupt travel ban and ill-prepared, harsh implementation are inhumane, racist, immoral and wrong as a matter of principle. We hereby reiterate our commitment to the principles of equality and non-discrimination for all, regardless of creed or national origin.

This statement is about protecting openness, diversity and fundamental human dignity as foundations for global collaboration. It is not about party affiliations or political leanings. It is not meant as an attack on US citizens or society for their political ideas. Here, we are speaking out against the Executive Order itself and the Trump administration’s actions surrounding it. We stand against the polarization of society, upon which populism and fascism thrive, and seek to engage individuals and groups from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, to clarify how and why these actions by the Trump administration are deeply harmful.

In addition to our moral objection to the ban, we believe it will have negative practical impacts. The open collaboration necessitated by Project Jupyter benefits US society in a variety of ways, and the Executive Order hinders our work significantly. Beyond Jupyter, this ban will negatively impact US society as a whole by, among other effects, driving away creative talent in research, education and technical development.

A personal note from Fernando Pérez

While the rest of this statement comes from the Jupyter Steering Council as a whole, this section highlights how these issues are more than a discussion of abstract principles: they impact us personally in ways that go back to the origin of the project itself.

In 1996, I (Fernando Pérez) left Colombia, my country of birth, to pursue my graduate studies in physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Colombia at the time was ravaged by the war with the drug cartels; Medellín, where I grew up, was known as the "murder capital of the world" (Narcos is a reasonably accurate dramatization of that period). Colombians were regularly targeted at immigration checkpoints anywhere in the world because the Colombian passport was taken as a symbol for "drug dealer". We were the universal "bad guys" at airports before 9/11.

I had the option of going to graduate school in Europe, but I decided to come to the US because of its openness towards foreigners. I knew that if I wanted to build my scientific career here after my PhD, there were strong traditions welcoming that. My path here was also woven with that of immigrants: my PhD advisor was a Hungarian theoretical physicist and my postdoc advisor a Russian mathematician.

In a culture that always made me feel welcome, I created IPython, became involved with the scientific Python ecosystem, co-founded NumFOCUS, BIDS at UC Berkeley and Jupyter, and have continued to contribute to open science. The idea that the US was a beacon of openness, tolerance and cultural diversity was central in the genesis of Jupyter. But if I was making those decisions today instead of 1996, I'm pretty sure I would go elsewhere.

This ban isn't merely an “inconvenience to 1% of travelers”, as Ms. Conway put
or a discussion about abstract ideas. It has a direct impact on human beings, the lives they lead and the things they create.

Practical considerations

In addition to our opposition to this executive order on principle, the immigration ban will also have detrimental practical consequences for our project. While Project Jupyter is an international community of contributors from many different countries, much of the project is US-centered. Our bi-annual developer meetings have traditionally been held within the US; the conferences we usually attend (such as SciPy and PyData) are generally within the US; and we are planning the first JupyterCon to be held in New York City. Because so much of the project is US-centered, this means the ban will hurt us both directly and indirectly.

Directly, it will mean that contributors from the affected countries cannot come to our events if we hold them in the US. However, if we hold them outside the US, it means that contributors from those countries who are currently residing in the US also cannot attend. Either way, this ban directly affects our ability to be a community that is accessible and welcoming to all.

Indirectly, the ban is already having a major impact on
in the US. These effects will be felt downstream by projects—such as Project Jupyter—which rely on the support and engagement of US-based scientists, both as users and contributors.

Finally, the impact reaches all non-US citizens: some of us have already received legal guidance from US universities advising against all foreign travel, regardless of country of origin. Others who live abroad, including US citizens, are finding it morally objectionable to deal with an immigration system that is so openly discriminatory, and therefore may not participate in US-based events in the future.

Moving forward

This situation is evolving rapidly, and we'll continue to monitor it. For now, we want to communicate our unwavering commitment to principles of human dignity and respect, and our opposition, with whatever voice and means we have, to these inhumane policies.

If anyone engaged with the project does need to visit the US for activities involving Jupyter, please get in touch with us (publicly on the mailing list or email anyone from the steering council directly), and we'll do our best to assist you.

Given the fluid situation, we don’t yet have solutions for those who may be unable or unwilling to attend events such as JupyterCon. We will be working in the coming weeks to find ways to help. We will explore solutions such as enhanced telepresence, streaming and more. Stay tuned.

What can I do?

If you are a US citizen, when the time comes, cast your vote. Even outside election time, please contact your representatives and senators and let them know your concerns. The Electronic Frontier
also has good information on how to contact your representatives. If you are not a US citizen, we encourage you to contact your government and impress upon them how this Order hinders international collaboration.

Regardless of nationality, you may also consider making a donation to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Finally, if you’d like to add your signature to express your support for this statement as a member of the Jupyter community, please do so by using this form.

This statement has been prepared and signed by the Project Jupyter Steering Council (in alphabetical order):

Damian Avila
Matthias Bussonnier
Sylvain Corlay
Jonathan Frederic
Brian Granger
Jason Grout
Jessica Hamrick
Paul Ivanov
Thomas Kluyver
Kyle Kelley
Peter Parente
Fernando Pérez
Min Ragan-Kelley
Steven Silvester
Carol Willing