The report acknowledges that Trump’s political rhetoric targeted international students as “threats” to the nation, but argues that this built on an existing “mistrust” of this population.
Talented, Yet Seen With Suspicion, co-authored by Ryan Allen and Krishna Bista, also challenges the notion that the 9/11 terror attacks “birthed” the strict visa processing and tracking measures international students face today, instead examining the wider historical context of this.
While Allen says there was “increased scrutiny” during the Trump presidency, the research traces the “suspicion” of international students in the US back to the early 1900s.
“It’s unfair that somebody might have to answer for this just because of their nationality or their skin colour or their religion”
The paper argues that there was an “incremental coupling” of international students and American fears of terrorism during the 20th century, pointing to the 1979 Iran hostage crisis as the event that “truly sparked apprehension” of international students in the US, eventually culminating in the student visa processes in place today.
Even liberal sections of society have now “seemingly accepted the coupling of international students and security”, but Allen and Bista warn that this could deter students from choosing to study in the United States.
“When you’re a student and you’re feeling like you have to answer for foreign policy issues and things related to aspects of society that are way beyond your control, I think that can bring on added stress and discomfort,” Allen said.
“It’s unfair that somebody might have to answer for this just because of their nationality or their skin colour or their religion,” he said, adding that this is “antithetical” to American higher education principles.
The article calls on educators to “continue to fight and protect this population from misplaced speculation and scapegoating”.