Trump visa limits on students, journalists would hurt US: NYT

Times calls for scrapping of proposed fixed period stay for F, J, I visas.

The Trump administration’s new visa limits to make it harder for foreign students, exchange visitors and journalists would be a self-inflicted wound for the United States, the New York Times has opined.

“From day one, a hallmark of the Trump administration has been its relentless assault on immigration, legal and illegal alike,” the Times Editorial Board said calling for outright scrapping of a new rule.

Introduced on Sept. 25, with a 30-day comment period, which ended Monday, the rule proposers a fixed period of stay for foreigners with F, J and I visas instead of the current duration of status framework.

This allows academic students (F), exchange visitors (J) and representatives of foreign information media (I) to remain in the US for as long as their studies or work required.

President Donald “Trump’s obsession with building a wall on the southern border symbolizes that obsession and all its cruelty and uselessness,” the Times said.

The latest brick in the “far more insidious” and  “invisible wall of restrictive policies,” it noted, “is aimed at making it much harder and more expensive for foreign students, exchange visitors and journalists to work or study in the United States.”

“The value of hosting these groups is self-evident — students and exchange visitors bring valuable perspectives (and tuition payments) and, in most cases, take back an appreciation of American life,” the Times said.

“Resident foreign journalists explain the workings of American society and democracy to audiences worldwide.”

RELATED: US mulls fixed period F, J, I visas (September 26, 2020)

Students and exchange visitors are by far the largest group affected by the proposed rule, accounting for more than two million visas, it noted.

Most of those come from Asia, with China sending about 370,000 students, India 202,000 and South Korea 52,000.

“That some foreigners overstay their visas, or come to spy on the United States or commit other crimes, is no surprise. It has probably always been so,” the Times acknowledged.

But it cited studies showing that “US citizens born in the United States are more likely to commit crimes than immigrants.”

READ MORE: F-1 visa archive

The effect of exchanging the current system for an onerous, costly and forbidding one would probably have the effect of driving students to Canada, Australia, Britain or elsewhere, it warned.

“That is not a negligible threat,” Times said noting according to Association of International Educators (NAFSA), “international students in the US contributed $41 billion to the economy and supported almost half a million jobs in the 2018-2019 academic year.”

Since Trump took office in 2017, the group estimated that flight of international students to other countries has already cost the economy $11.8 billion.

“Dollars and jobs are not the whole story,” the Times said noting international students and immigrants have played a major role in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and have garnered a major share of American Nobel Prizes in the sciences.

“Returning to their home countries, they become a major American soft-power asset,” it added.

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