Losing International Students Would Be Devastating for U.S. Economy, Competitiveness
If forced to leave, international students will likely find it incredibly difficult to return, particularly so long as President Trump’s recent visa bans remain in effect. If the Administration is successful in its other announced changes, such as those restricting or ending OPT work authorization for international graduates, it’s likely they won’t want to come back anyway. On the other hand, if students choose to stay in the U.S., they will fall out of legal status, become undocumented, and thus subject to deportation, and be barred from re-entering the United States for up to a decade.
Economists and other experts have long agreed that international students are a tremendous asset for the United States, and have advocated for policies to better retain their talents. International students contribute enormously to the communities in which they live, they subsidize the cost of education for domestic students, and they drive valuable research and development. After graduating, international students fill critical roles in the workforce, particularly in STEM fields, and help launch new businesses that create jobs for Americans. Studying in the U.S. also exposes them to American culture, building goodwill amongst allies and opening the door to individuals fleeing oppressive regimes.
For years leaders in higher education have warned that falling enrollment rates among international students could signal that the U.S. is relinquishing its role as the top destination for global talent, thanks in part to increasingly restrictive immigration policies and unwelcoming atmospheres on campuses. Despite these warnings, the Trump Administration has doubled down on its hardline efforts to make it more difficult for international students to come to the U.S. or to stay here after graduating.
The Administration’s refusal to provide accommodations to international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities in the midst of a deadly pandemic is yet another unnecessary attack on immigrants, and a self-inflicted blow to America’s global leadership.