Though the 2020 presidential election is now over, politicians and reporters saw this last week as a historical turning point as well as a must-win battle for Biden in order to preserve American democracy. The outcome of this election will have far-reaching influences on U.S. immigration and foreign policy.
Four years ago, the Obama administration created the DACA program through an executive order, allowing the children of undocumented immigrants to study, work and reside within the United States based on humanitarian principles. Four years later though, Trump took over the office and vowed to undo all of the progress, claiming his policies would prioritize and help American citizens.
Instead, the pandemic slapped Trump in the face. Because he pulled out of many international agreements and placed tariffs on foreign imports, he made many American lives miserable as their daily products became increasingly expensive. The U.S. economy went straight downhill because of Trump’s xenophobic “America First” agenda.
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Trump’s policies further doomed the American economy by turning away international students. Starting in June 2020, Trump abused national security to halt all immigration processes. A couple of months later, the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a directorate in July, vowing to ban all international students in the United States if they chose to take all online classes for the fall 2020 semester, a decision that was quickly overturned following backlash from students across the country.
More recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed to put more restrictions on F-category (international students) and J-category (visiting scholars and their spouses) visas, such as shortening them to four years and prohibiting international students to leave the United States for more than 30 days.
These policies are obviously xenophobic and hostile to international students who contribute more than $39 billion to the American economy, supporting more than 400,000 jobs.
Trump claims he is for American workers, yet his policies will eliminate the economic benefits brought by international students, which the economy desperately needs to recover from the current recession. His policies are clearly not for American workers.
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Thanks to coronavirus and Trump’s policies, the projected decline from international students’ revenue is around $23 billion nationwide, according to the American Council on Education. If the number of international students declines further, the U.S. economy will not receive the financial stimulus it desperately needs.
When this major source of total institutional revenue decreases, the government needs other ways to generate funding, such as taxes. In this particular situation, the government will likely raise tax rates, subsequently hurting millions of Americans who have already declared unemployment and have been living off of relief packages.
After ICE vowed to ban international students, Chancellor Blank joined the lawsuit against ICE for its unlawful actions. But despite these efforts, UW’s international student population is still declining.
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In order to stop this downward trend, Biden needs to officially win the election. Though there were not many questions related to immigration policies during the presidential debates, it is safe to say Democrats are much more open to immigrants and international students than the currently-xenophobic Republican party. The outcome of this election will impact the number of international students in the U.S. and the resulting revenue for the American economy.
If Biden officially wins the election, it is important for UW to form coalitions with other institutions to lobby Congress to overrule Trump’s executive orders. The resumption of the immigration process over the summer shows international students around the world that the U.S. government welcomes immigration and foreign investment, which the university’s efforts should reflect as well.
Ken Wang ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science.