The Trump administration decreed on July 6 that international students have to leave the country if their universities opt for online-only classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The anti-immigrant cruelty of this order is surpassed only by its utter stupidity.
More than a million international students are enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. They make up 5.5 percent of all students in U.S. institutions of higher education. They pay full, non-resident tuition, and make massive contributions to the U.S. economy:
“International students attending U.S. colleges and universities contribute $41 billion to the economy each year, making education a vital U.S. export and a significant trade surplus. They contribute an additional $10 billion to the economy in spending outside of tuition, and are responsible for supporting over 458,000 jobs.”
From the state university system in California to elite universities like Harvard, U.S. colleges and universities have responded to the continuing health threat of COVID-19 by ordering online-only classes in the fall semester. Those classes will offer full-time enrollment for both U.S. and international students. Except that the Trump administration will not recognize them as full-time for international students and instead threatens to deport them.
Deporting international students cuts off a vital source of income for colleges and universities, who depend on the higher tuition paid by these students. International students historically become entrepreneurs, inventors, and investors. Now they can take their talents to Canada or some other country still smart enough to welcome them.
The only rationale for deporting international students in this time of pandemic and economic crisis is sheer anti-immigrant bigotry. Getting rid of international students is, as the old saying goes, like cutting off your nose to spite your face.