“International Students Are Key To Continued American Economic Leadership”


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Protestors gather to demonstrate against the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban against five Muslim nations on June 26, 2018 in Foley Square, New York City. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The story has been told time and time again. As of two years ago, approximately half of U.S. private companies valued at $1 billion or more (so-called “unicorns”) had founders who came to the U.S. as international students.

Yes, it’s true and I agree 100% BUT my guess is that this and similar arguments fall on deaf ears among the current powers that be because ideologues generally don’t care about logic and facts.  The anti-immigrant, nativist crowd only cares about its narrowly-focused agenda, the long-term well-being of their country be damned.  

This is a sad reality that the author points out when he mentions the obvious:  …this Administration doesn’t seem to care. What’s really scary is that the worst is yet to come. The Administration’s recent actions have led to awful images of immigrant children in cages that have gone viral and global.  Before Trump was elected, I predicted that his administration would hasten the decline of the US, as did other much more astute observers of the US political scene.  (One important bit of silver lining in all of this – knock on wood – is that the US has yet to invade, occupy, or destroy any other country, aside from the bomb that is dropped every 12 minutes.)  

NAFSA:  Association of International Educators, which bills itself as “the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange, working to advance policies and practices that ensure a more interconnected, peaceful world today and for generations to come,” is fond of trotting out the old economic contribution argument.  In addition to all of the other myriad benefits, both tangible and intrinsic, international students contribute $37 billion to the US economy.  What’s not to like and support, right?  Most of those in the America First crowd simply don’t care.  International students are perceived by some as potential national security risks who will be able to steal economic and other secrets – to the strategic disadvantage of the US.  Yeah, right.  

It doesn’t matter that previous presidents, e.g., Barack Obama, and presidential candidates, including Donald Trump himself, have spoken out in favor of encouraging a certain percentage of international students to remain in the US for the long term and contribute to its economy and society.  (For example, Mitt Romney campaigned six years ago on stapling a green card to the diploma of every international students with a degree in math or one of the sciences.)  

Follow the link to read this 28 June 2018 Forbes article in its entirety.  The concluding paragraph should whet your appetite:

As we celebrate America’s birthday next week, this issue deserves our full attention, starting with all of us in higher education, and everyone who first came to this country as an international student (of which group I’m a proud member). President Trump has already trashed America’s moral leadership, ostensibly in the name of economic gain. But these developments – both rivals pushing ahead and a reckless disregard of the impact of an isolationist approach to immigration on American higher education and talent – demonstrate that he’s also intent on trashing America’s economic leadership.

The United States’ loss is a gain for Australia, Canada, the UK, and other countries, as I upload this post.  

Peace, MAA

Postscript:  Forget about US economic leadership.  The USA is, after all, a mortal nation among other nations, in the words of Anatol Lieven.  What about remaining economically competitive?  What about meeting the basic needs of all of its citizens?  Obviously, there’s more to all of this than economic growth.  Here’s what happens in a society in which three (3) people own more wealth than 50% of the population:  Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food (18.5.18)

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