Dear President Trump,
Your administration just issued a policy that forces foreign students studying in America into a gut wrenching dilemma. If their university transitions to an online-only model in response to Covid-19, they must pack their bags, break their leases, and self-deport back to their home countries. For an administration that claims to welcome skilled immigrants who come to the US legally, this is just another example of an arbitrary and exclusionary rule that sends the exactly the opposite message.
We Need Them, Just as They Need Us
The United States is a country that was built on immigration. Your administration is turning its back on centuries of tradition. America has always been a beacon of hope around the world, a place to come and work hard and contribute, not only for themselves but also the betterment of the nation. Each person who comes to America, whether they immigrate or just stay a while, contribute in their own unique way. They bring their food, their culture, their ideas, they start businesses, they pay taxes, and they pursue the common American dream that we all share.
In the US, 45% of Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants or their children. Together, these companies brought in $6.1 trillion of revenue in 2018 alone. Immigrants overall have founded 20% of all American businesses. In short, immigrants don’t take jobs, they create them. (For a look at all of the companies worth $1 Billion or more and started by immigrants, check out this website.)
In STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), foreign students account for an astonishing 54% of masters degrees and 44% of doctorate degrees issued by American universities. Many of these degree recipients choose to stay in the US after they graduate, working for American companies and helping protect American economic dominance.
Efforts Against Legal Immigration
Instead of supporting legal immigration, your administration appears fixated on systematically dismantling all legal pathways to migration. Instead of welcoming American allies in the refugee program, it has ground to a halt, (as has the asylum program.) Three “travel bans” have been placed on people arbitrarily, blocking legal routes to travel and immigration, keeping families needlessly separated. You administration has tried to rip the rug from underneath 700 thousand DACA receipts, who have committed no crime, pay their taxes, and would like the opportunity to stay and contribute to America.
Recently, under the false pretense of protecting American jobs, work visas which serve as one of the few pathways for skilled workers to come to America and (potentially someday) immigrate, have also been suspended. Your latest executive order even targets families by placing bans on the ability of immigrants to sponsor their loved one to join them in America.
This move by ICE against students who, while not immigrating, certainly could end up loving America and someday choosing to stay, sends a cold message to them and any future individual who might look toward America as their beacon of hope. This message is resoundingly clear: we don’t want you here.
A Call to Action
Look, asking that our immigration and customs and border policy is fair and reasonable does not mean “open borders”. It is perfectly possible to have strong border controls without an oppressive and cold approach toward immigrants and immigration.
These students and immigrants are people who have committed no crime other than a desire to live, learn about, and contribute toward the greatest nation on Earth. This endless assault on legal immigration, travel, and education needs to come to an end. I ask that ICE kindly roll back is misguided policy directive, that all recent anti-immigrant executive orders be lifted, and arbitrary travel bans halted, for the good of America and its future.