A de-facto international student ban has sparked widespread condemnation and outrage, after the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced it will not renew visas for international students taking classes online .
President Donald Trump has used the ruling to put pressure on universities and colleges to reopen as normal. The announcement from ICE came on the same day that schools, such as Harvard, announced that all teaching would be provided online .
Students, teachers and college officials have reacted with horror at the ruling, which may affect up to four hundred thousand international students . Many believe that ICE’s ruling is unenforceable, however, and that the Trump administration is pushing it for political reasons.
Many students have blasted the Trump administration for cynically using a pandemic to come down hard on immigrants.
Others point out that it makes little economic sense to ban international students. Particularly when the U.S. is in the middle of a recession. But hey, the stock market is rallying, so who cares, right?
There’s also plenty of confusion. Many students don’t know whether they’ll be able to reenter their home nations.
Many students also face other obstacles that would make it difficult for them to leave the U.S.
Students in the U.S. are almost universally appalled by ICE’s move. Some now even regret coming to the U.S. in the first place. I suspect Donald Trump and his base will be happy about this, given their delusional belief that America’s problems would somehow be solved overnight if all immigrants departed.
As with much Trump administration policy, ICE’s new student ban may not actually be workable. It may seem appealing to racists and idiots at first glance, but enforcing it would be extremely messy.
Schools may find a workaround. Many may adopt a “hybrid” system whereby they have some classes online and some in-person (perhaps involving social distancing).
The legal status of Trump’s student ban is also questionable. Lawyers expect numerous legal challenges to be made against it.
Reichlin-Melnick’s prediction is likely accurate. Teachers and university academics are already gearing up to fight the student ban.
The international student ban may not be about actually sending immigrants home. It may just be Donald Trump playing at least two political games.
One: he’s playing to his anti-immigration crowd. Trump has already used the pandemic to attack immigration, having signed an executive order in June affecting as many 167,000 immigrant workers .
Two: the student ban is a wedge to force universities into opening. Trump’s own tweet yesterday indicates this.
It’s likely that the ban is being used not just to reopen schools, but also to help reopen the U.S. economy. Because with an election due in November, Trump really needs those GDP figures.