A couple of colleagues shared this letter by Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, US State Department, on social media. It was sent to participants in a small international student recruitment conference in early December in the US.
I’m not sure what they were so excited about. As I mentioned in an understated LinkedIn comment, The statements and actions of the administration she serves belie her words… As we all know, talk is cheap and, in this case, utterly worthless, since official reality firmly contradicts the warm and fuzzy talking points. Indeed, in many cases, administration statements, policy proposals and proposals are a frontal assault on this official rhetoric.
I remember writing these kinds of letters when I was a graduate assistant in the president’s office at a major state university. You know, boilerplate kind of stuff. Another day, another constituent letter. (The more interesting writing consisted of policy statements and speeches.)
I know times are tough but I have the feeling that some people are grasping at straws, looking for something, anything, that they perceive as being cause for hope. Trust me – this ain’t it. I know this dates me but it kinda reminds me of the time teachers gave good students gold stars for outstanding performance or exemplary behavior. Decades later, I still have fond memories of those gold, silver, and blue stars. A little went a long way.
Maybe Ms. Royce and Secretary Pompeo should have a sit-down with their big boss in The White House (or Mar-a-Lago) to ensure that they are all on the same rhetorical and policy page. Yeah, right. When hell freezes over.
While the US president lurches from one shit storm to the next, his mouth a fount of filth and lies, his mind a roiling cauldron of chaos, and The White House in a perennial state of (crazy) crisis, there are some nameless yet busy little beavers working in the trenches of the vast federal bureaucracy in DC carrying out the Supreme Leader’s anti-foreign, anti-international, anti-US MAGA agenda with a vengeance.
The policy proposals trickling out of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security, remind me of water torture – not to be confused with waterboarding, made (more) infamous by the Bush/Cheney administration. The former is a form of torture in which the victim is exposed to the incessant dripping of water on the head or to the sound of dripping.
Are those heartfelt expressions of gratitude I hear coming from other countries that host large numbers of Vietnamese and other international students? Canada says THANK YOU, Australia says THANK YOU, etc., ad nauseam. Sadly, I don’t see anyone or any entity with any appreciable influence jamming their transmission. DC continues to burn and no one’s called 911 yet. (Maybe the new Congress in 2019?)
What’s next, eliminate the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program because it takes jobs away from ‘Muricans? Shut down the H1B work visa program for the same reason? While they’re at it, why not just throw the baby out with the bathwater and shove a dagger in the heart of the EB-5 program, which has brought in billions of dollars in low-interest money for a variety of construction projects?
Each proposal, some more damaging than others, creates yet another disincentive to study in the US or even visit the country as a tourist or businessperson, not to mention other “negatives” like the latest mass shooting du jour. Each that relates somehow to the F-1 is just more chipping away at the edifice that is study in the USA. It reminds me of the expression No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse.
The fat lady hasn’t sung yet – not by a long shot. Look forward to more drip, drip, drip, drip. Sorry I don’t have more upbeat news to share with you, dear reader, but the truth trumps spin any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
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.
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)
In her 16 June 2017 University World News article US student mobility trends in a global contextRajika Bhandari refers to “the rise of nationalism around the world and what is perceived as a turning inward of many traditional host destinations that have typically attracted large numbers of students and scholars from around the world.” A turning inward refers to nativism not nationalism. Ms. Bhandari is not the first colleague to misuse this term nor is she likely to be the last, unfortunately. Please see these articles for more information.
Nativism is defined as “the policy of protecting the interests of native-born or established inhabitants against those of immigrants” and often goes hand in hand with xenophobia. Nativism and nationalism are by no means mutually inclusive.
…nationalism is defined as loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially a sense of national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups.
What the United States desperately needs is more patriots and global citizens (the two are not mutually exclusive) and fewer nationalists. The golden question is how to transform the latter into the former. Can this be accomplished through education and training, or are there other factors at play that make this impossible?
Here’s my latest University World News essay, a response to a number of articles there and elsewhere that confuse nationalism with nativism. (Note: The title was supplied by the editor.)
My main point is that nationalism in the US is nothing new, nor is there a connection between a rise in nationalism and the ascendancy of Donald Trump.
…I would argue that the ‘turn’ is not toward nationalism, which clearly predates Trump’s election, but toward nativism, the result of populist anger about the negative effects of globalisation.