Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott.
Of all the self-defeating actions in the Trump administration’s war on immigrants, the most puzzling is its obsession with driving foreign students out of the United States. Last week, the administration unveiled a proposed rule that would force out many students by revoking visas if they fail to finish their degrees in four years, and would also limit students from many African and Middle Eastern countries to two-year visas. This comes on top of its failed effort earlier this year to strip visas from foreign students in universities that had been forced to switch to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. The administration backed down after lawsuits and a storm of protest from the nation’s top colleges and universities.
President Donald Trump has already taken other steps to block students from Muslim-majority countries and to send home many Chinese students and researchers working in technical fields, claiming they pose a national security threat. And his administration is working on plans to shrink or eliminate the Optional Practical Training program, which allows many foreign students to remain in the U.S. and work in their field of study for up to two years on their student visas.