Americans are getting all too accustomed to hearing stories of US-based researchers being denied reentry into the United States after a visit to their native homelands. We also hear of conference speakers being denied entry into the United States at airports. We must not let this become the new normal.
Unfortunately, the US is not alone. A Dutch academic colleague recently reported his experience attempting to come to the rescue of an American researcher arriving to attend a PhD ceremony who was denied entry at Schiphol.
I give his account below as a guest blog. I asked him for clarification on one point. Dr. Visser told me that so far American colleague had to pay all fees out of her own pocket.
A scientist treated as a refugee at the Dutch border
An US researcher from the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore) was refused entry into the Netherlands, when arriving at Schiphol airport to attend three PhD defenses at the Free University (Amsterdam) about health care in Ethiopia.
She had supervised these PhD candidates for years. She was required to be at the ceremony as co-supervisor. The main reason for refusing her entry was that the total of her earlier stays of in NL exceeded 90 days by 5 days. Neither she nor I knew about that limitation. It had never been explained by border control.
A little drama unfolded, well known from the treatment of refugees at the Dutch border. After five hours waiting to get a 12 page pre-coded document, there was some unsympathetic communication with the border police. Not understanding the reason of her stay, they mentioning her “so-called type of professor”. The Dutch legal right to consult a superior and to contact a lawyer were not granted. The police forced me to leave the boarder, telling me if I didn’t, force would be used. An hour later, my American colleague was sent back to Washington D.C., escorted by a border police to the waiting plane. Her passport was given to the flight attendant.
Cost for the Dutch government: 2,300 euros.
After a lot of negotiation in the USA with a Dutch lawyer and support by the Free University, she got the permission to return to the Netherlands for four days to attend the PhD defenses as co-supervisor.
Cost: Several thousand dollars for the tickets and lawyer’s fee.
My belief in a human constitutional approach at the border fell below Dutch level.
Adriaan Visser, PhD, researcher/psychologist, Director of Pro-Health.org, Rotterdam, NL
JCC: Post-Brexit British academics, this could happen to you.