DLF Statement on Borders and Participation

re: “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy/SCOTUS Travel Ban decision

On the third anniversary of its landmark decision affirming marriage equality for members of the American LGBTQ community, the Supreme Court of the United States has issued a disappointing 5-4 ruling that upholds the Trump administration’s so-called “Muslim ban.” This ban, in its latest iteration, restricts travel to the US by nationals of seven countries, five of which are majority-Muslim. Justice Sotomayor’s dissent outlines evidence of the anti-Muslim rhetoric and animus that has surrounded and which “a reasonable observer would conclude [has] motivated” this ban.

Screenshot from the "Torn Apart / Separados" project
Screenshot from the “Torn Apart / Separados” project

The ruling comes at a moment when the nation is also reeling from the implementation of “zero tolerance” and child separation policies, with harsh repercussions against asylum-seekers and those crossing US borders without authorization. Thousands of children have been ripped from their families, which—together or separately—now face deportation, indefinite incarceration, or utter, inconceivable loss.

In the face of governmental assaults on basic human dignity and rights, on the shared values of hospitality and compassion that have underlain the notion of asylum throughout history, and on the free and open intellectual and cultural exchange that bolsters democracy and comes with legal migration across borders, the Digital Library Federation would like to offer some small assurances.

First, because planning for our 2018 conference is well underway, with presenters having received notification of the results of peer review just this week, we would like to assure all speakers that DLF staff are conscious of the impact of immigration and travel policies on potential participation. We deeply value your safety, comfort, and ability to participate in DLF programming to the fullest extent possible. No conference presenter impacted by a travel ban or concerned about safety or freedom of movement will lose the chance to share work with the DLF community. Please contact us for assistance with special arrangements, if travel restrictions or any related concerns apply to you.

We are also conscious that non-presenters planning to attend the DLF Forum may be affected by actions of the current regime. DLF will waive processing fees for anyone impacted by US border control policy (presenters and non-presenters alike) who wish to have their conference registration costs refunded. While we cannot live-stream all presentations and events, DLF Forum and Digital Preservation 2018 keynotes and plenary panels will be streamed, transcribed, recorded, and made freely available to all. The DLF Forum program committee and broader community will likewise work once again this year toward the goal of making slide-decks, crowdsourced notes, and other presentation materials readily available for each and every conference session.

DLF operates under a Code of Conduct that outlines the ways in which we “strive to be a welcoming organization and the focal point for a digital library culture that is anti-oppression, recognizes intersectionalities, and works compassionately across difference.” We therefore decry all travel restrictions that target wide swaths of people based on religion, nationality, or ethnicity, and all violations of customary international law, such as the “right to seek and enjoy asylum” that is codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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