The ISSCR joined scientific societies in a joint letter to The White House and U.S. Administration officials citing grave concerns that the latest proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) action will cost the U.S. the current cohort of future innovators now enrolled in U.S. schools. The letter goes on to say the policy change could permanently destroy one of America’s main competitive advantages: the ability to attract the world’s best and brightest to study and work here, and ultimately create America’s industries and jobs of the future. The letter reinforces that leadership in global scientific and technological research requires the talents, skills, and ideas of STEM professionals from different backgrounds and cultures, and with different perspectives.
The Administration’s proposed modifications would prohibit non-immigrant students from remaining in the United States if all classes are online because of COVID-19. Implementation of the ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) modifications could severely impact the nearly 1.6 million students currently in the U.S. under SEVP by causing vast numbers of students to potentially be deported.
Further, the ISSCR joined a similar effort on a joint letter from scientific societies that states, “Given that a fully online course load may be the only option at many universities, and given the challenges in international travel including visa access, the net effect of this change would appear to be to force large numbers of non-immigrant students to disrupt their studies, leave the U.S., and be unable to return for the foreseeable future.” The letter states the effect of this this change will be to inflict serious long-term damage to the advancement of science and engineering and the global competitiveness of the U.S. This is not an action we would have expected from a U.S. government, nor is it one that we can support.