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A boy peers through the Mexican side of the border fence near Tijuana.

A boy peers through the Mexican side of the border fence near Tijuana.

Michael Dwyer/Alamy Stock Photo

Building a wall around Mexican science? The ScienceInsider briefing

Day 12 of the new U.S. administration is shaping up to be no less exciting than days one through 11. The White House this afternoon sent out a “stay tuned” memo to announce U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court this evening. Meanwhile, officials at the departments of justice, state, and homeland security are scrambling to make sense of the fallout from Trump’s sweeping executive order on immigration. How are scientists faring in the meantime? Read on!

The front page

Mexican scientists feel the Trump effect

The proposed border wall might not yet be planned or paid for (you can see how much it could cost, according to MIT Technology Review), but Mexican scientists already are feeling the effects of a virtual wall: The fall of the peso is gutting the buying power of research grants, and chilly relations could change the fate of cross-border collaborations. “Geography made us cousins,” says climate scientist Carlos Gay of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. “This is like breaking up a family.” Science

Scientists from countries affected by refugee order speak out

Over the past few days, academics affected by the Trump administration’s refugee order have been emailing the Science newsroom with their stories. Here are a few (some asked not be fully identified):

  • Shabnam Akhtari is a mathematician at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She was born in Iran, became a Canadian citizen in 2008, and holds a green card. The order has put a trip to Toronto, Canada, in doubt, she writes, and she worries that difficulty traveling for work could “make me invisible” in her field.
  • Zahra, an Iranian scientist, had won a visa to move to a laboratory at a large university in Texas. But U.S. officials have canceled meetings for completing the expensive process, “without even an apology or warning or refund. It is so unprofessional from a country like U.S.A.”
  • Fatemeh’s plans to enroll in a doctoral program at a U.S. university are on hold. “I have been looking forward to this moment for years … but with the swipe of a pen, that dream has shattered.”

Democrats boycott confirmation votes for Trump nominees

Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee always knew things could get messy during confirmation hearings for Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Representative Tom Price (R–GA). But now Democrats have thrown them for a loop: Citing a report in The Wall Street Journal that Price got preferential treatment in an Australian health care stock offering—and failed to disclose it—all 12 Democratic members of the panel walked out in protest. They also boycotted a vote on Trump’s pick for treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin. At least one Democrat has to be present for the panel to be able to vote. The Hill

DeVos investments in a therapy under scrutiny

Department of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, who cleared her own committee vote early today, has come under fire for one of her ventures: a franchise of brain performance centers that claim to offer an effective treatment for everything from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to autism. But many scientists say the ideas are theoretically appealing, but “oversold.” DeVos has also come under criticism for her support of groups that champion intelligent designThe New York Times

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