22 states challenge Trump visa limits on students, journalists

Limits on F, J, I visas slammed as “xenophobic, arbitrary, unnecessary, and unduly burdensome.”

Attorneys general of 22 states have slammed as “xenophobic” a Trump administration proposal to impose new restrictions on international students, exchange visitors and foreign media and limit their stay in the US.

Proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Sept. 25, with a 30-day comment period, which ended Monday, the new rule would put a fixed term of between two and four years for international students and exchange visitors with the option to renew their permissions to stay in the US.

International media would only be allowed to enter the US for a period of up to 240 days.

China (370,000), India (202,000), South Korea (52,000) and Saudi Arabia (37,000), sent a little more than 60 percent of international students to the US in the 2018-2019 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE).

The 22 attorneys general criticized the move as “xenophobic” and the time limits as “arbitrary, unnecessary, and unduly burdensome,” according to the Hill.

Currently, international students, exchange visitors and foreign media under the specific F, J and I visas, respectively, can stay in the US for “duration of status” or as long as their studies or work requires.

But the proposed rule by DHS would remove the “duration of status framework” and impose new time limits.

In a letter sent Monday to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, the attorneys general criticized the agency for rushing through the process implementing the rule, according to the Hill.

They said that it discourages foreign students and media from coming to the US and possibly violates federal law, including the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

The proposed rule is “arbitrary and capricious, and therefore cannot withstand scrutiny under the APA, on several grounds, including faulty logic, defective data, and tenuous reasoning,” the AGs were quoted as writing.

The letter was led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, both Democrats.

“The Trump administration’s proposed rule to severely restrict time limits on international student visas is yet another xenophobic and unlawful attempt to keep foreign citizens out of the United States,” Racine said in a statement.

The attorneys general said the proposed restrictions are likely to impose a two-year limit on the more than half of international students who are enrolled in four-year bachelor’s programs and will discourage them from coming to the US.

“Given the risk involved, it is more than likely that significant numbers of students will not apply for those programs at all,” they wrote.

The attorneys general further criticized the move as having negative effects on American students and state economies.

While the number of international students studying in the US has declined by 11 percent since 2016, this group of foreign visitors is estimated to contribute about $41 billion to the US economy and support half a million jobs, the Hill noted.

“The more than 12,000 foreign students studying at colleges and universities in the District of Columbia are valued members of our community. These students make important contributions to their schools and add millions of dollars to our local economy,” Racine stated.

“Our coalition urges the Department of Homeland Security to abandon this drastic proposal because it could prevent many international students from finishing their degrees, drive down enrollment at American schools, and harm state economies.”

Racine and Healey were joined on the letter by the state attorney generals for California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.


Trump visa limits on students, journalists would hurt US: NYT (October 27, 2020)

Trump H-1B ban cost America $100 billion: Brookings (October 22, 2020)

State Department proposes elimination of B-1 in lieu of H-1B visa (October 21, 2020)

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