Trump’s plan to expel foreign students was an attack on US science leadership

From the Trump administration perspective, suddenly forcing international students out of the country must have looked like three wins in one.

It would have ejected mostly non-European immigrants, advanced the administration’s new demand that schools reopen their campuses despite the threat posed by COVID-19 and financially and academically harmed universities, which Trump views as bastions of liberal indoctrination.

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Not to mention striking a blow against science, and especially against the nation’s leadership in scientific research, which has come about largely because of its globally admired university programs in engineering and laboratory science.

At least the odious preliminary directive was withdrawn Tuesday. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia sued and the plan’s chances were looking iffy in court.

Still, this ridiculous attempt shouldn’t be forgotten.

It was a harmful and punitive, and it would have injured the nation’s economy as well as the noble purposes of higher education. About a million international students pursue their studies in the United States. They make up at least three-fourths of the graduate students in computer science and industrial, petroleum and electrical engineering, and large numbers in laboratory sciences.

This country is literally richer for their presence.

Many return home after graduation, but many others have taken on important roles in the science, technology, engineering and math industries and in research programs in this country. While they’re here as grad students, they contribute $45 billion a year to the economy, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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The administration knew perfectly well that the students it targeted are here legitimately, contributing to our higher education system, to our economy and, in many cases, to our global leadership in science and technology.

— Los Angeles Times

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