Men and women of ill-intent have throughout the course of American history sought to bar students from attending institutions of education. The new Department of Homeland Security rule, which bars international students from returning to their colleges that implement an online-only instruction model, does just that. 

Some universities have announced hybrid models with portions of the academic year being online and others in-person, with staggered on-campus learning based on year, and with some decisions about course implementation being left up to the instructor. These include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Tennessee.

With such varying implementation of re-opening guidelines, international students will be forced into a long bureaucratic struggle simply to make it to class on time. At worst, international students who have long participated in our society, contributed to our economy, and excelled within our institutions of higher education will be expelled from the United States. 

To put a number on it, that is a potential $45 billion in contributions to the U.S. economy that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is declining.

At the end of the day, not withstanding the considerable social and economic impact this will have on local economies, this amounts to nothing more than a mean-spirited endeavor on the part of an administration that has only just recently lost a Supreme Court battle to unlawfully deport DREAMers. 

This will drag on into congressional committees, subcommittees, court cases, hearings, and the nauseating spectacle of self-congratulatory public rhetoric amongst the Republican party. This rule will affect only three outcomes: Generating paperwork; Maiming our universities; and Costing the economy untold and immediately needed finances. 

If this administration applied its desire to self-isolate from the world to their personal lives, perhaps the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States would not today be rapidly increasing both in daily number of cases and deaths. For once, let’s not bully students, especially international students. The months to come may yet prove that the United States needs the world far more than this administration would like to admit. 

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Tyler Kibbey, M.A., is a Research Fellow of the University of Humboldt, Berlin, and the Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics. He has taught English as a Second Language at the University of Tennessee and the LADO International Institute and has taught Freshman English Rhetoric at the University of Kentucky. Tyler is a habitual resident of Portland, Tennessee, graduating as Salutatorian of the Portland High School Class of 2013. Mr. Kibbey welcomes comments to tyler.e.kibbey@gmail.com.

 

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