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Trump travel ban extension raises concern

US president Donald Trump has added six more countries to his administration’s visa and travel ban – including Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria – to the dismay of international education professionals in the US.

The Trump administration claims the security and travel proclamations have “immeasurably improved” national security. Photo: wikimedia

Members of the country's international education sector are concerned it will mar the USA's reputation

Citizens from Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria will no longer be issued immigrant visa, while “certain nationals” of Sudan and Tanzania will be unable to participate in the ‘Visa Lottery’.

“As international educators…we are deeply disturbed by this latest travel ban expansion”

Although the extension of the ban will reportedly not restrict international students from entering the US, members of the country’s international education sector are concerned it will mar the USA’s reputation.

“As international educators committed to fostering a peaceful, more welcoming US, we are deeply disturbed by this latest travel ban expansion and the message it sends: that the US is not a place that welcomes or respects people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” said NAFSA’s executive director and CEO, Esther D. Brimmer.

The latest iteration of the ban will “undoubtedly accelerate the alarming decline of international students in the US”, she added.

The Trump administration claims the security and travel proclamations have “immeasurably improved” national security and “dramatically strengthened” the integrity of the US immigration system.

The number of international students in the US has shrunk by more than 10% over the last three years, Brimmer continued.

“Policies like these and the unwelcoming rhetoric from some of our nation’s leaders continue to hinder our ability to succeed in today’s global competition for talent,” she said.

According to NAFSA, more than 17,000 international students and scholars from the six countries generated around US$619 million in economic activity in 2019.

“While some may claim that by preventing legitimate travel from these countries is a necessary precaution… foreign policy leaders for decades have agreed that true security lies in understanding the nature of specific threats and focusing on individuals who mean to cause us harm—not in preventing entire nationalities from entering the US,” Brimmer added.

Speaking with The PIE News, professor of Educational Policy Studies & Practice at the University of Arizona, Jenny Lee, warned that the extended travel ban is “an extended Muslim ban as well as the beginnings of an African ban”.

The effect would be a narrowing of diversity on US campuses, she added.

“International students from these countries may continue to enter the US, but they are nevertheless directly impacted by the expanded travel ban,” Lee noted.

“The effect would be a narrowing of diversity on US campuses”

“International graduate students especially travel with their families and oftentimes with intentions to stay and apply their advanced degrees. These individuals contribute greatly as an integral part of the US’ highly skilled workforce.”

A “sweeping ban” based on nationality sends a xenophobic message that students are not welcome in the US, Lee added.

“Students from other countries, particularly from these same regions, may also feel uncertain about their future prospects in the US. It is doubtful that this is the last travel ban to come,” she said.

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