ICE: Foreign Students Must Leave The U.S. If Their Colleges Go Online-Only This Fall

Yet another Canadian advantage, short-lived should Trump be defeated:

Foreign students attending U.S. colleges that will operate entirely online this fall semester cannot remain in the country to do so, according to new regulations released Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

As college students across the United States and around the world contemplate what their upcoming semester might look like, the federal guidance limits options for international students and leaves them with an uncomfortable choice: attend in-person classes during a pandemic or take them online from another country.

And for students enrolled in schools that have already announced plans to operate fully online, there is no choice. Under the new rules, the State Department will not issue them visas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow them to enter the country.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” read a release from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

The agency said students already in the country and faced with a fully online course of study may take alternative measures to maintain their nonimmigrant status, “such as a reduced course load or appropriate medical leave.”

The rule applies to holders of F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas, which allow nonimmigrant students to pursue academic and vocational coursework, respectively.

More than 1 million of the country’s higher education students come from overseas, according to the nonprofit Institute of International Education.

Typically, foreign students are limited in how many online courses they can take and are required to do the majority of their learning in the classroom, according to immigration lawyer Fiona McEntee. Once the pandemic struck, students were given flexibility to take more online classes — but only for the spring and summer semesters.

“It’s an unprecedented public health crisis, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for the allowances that they made to continue, especially given the fact that we clearly, quite clearly do not have a handle on the pandemic here right now, unlike other countries that have,” McEntee said. “This makes no sense.”

McEntee said the decision is especially puzzling given the value of foreign students, which is quantifiable economically.

According to an economic analysis by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $41 billion and supported 458,290 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year.

McEntee added that losing foreign students is a huge blow to university budgets, something that will impact domestic students as well. Similarly, the decision to attend classes in person impacts all students present.

“If students can study online successfully from an academic point of view, why are we forcing them to come into a situation where they could put their health at risk and also the health of their classmates at risk?” she asked.

Students attending schools operating as usual will remain bound by existing federal regulations that permit them to take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.

Students attending schools implementing a hybrid model can take more online classes or credits, though their school must certify “that the program is not entirely online, that the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester, and that the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.”

The announcement comes as higher education institutions are releasing frameworks for reopening in the fall semester. Schools are preparing to offer in-person instruction, online classes or a mix of both.

Eight percent of colleges are planning to operate online, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which is tracking the reopening plans of more than 1,000 U.S. colleges. Sixty percent are planning for in-person instruction, and 23% are proposing a hybrid model, with a combined 8.5% undecided or considering a range of scenarios.

Harvard University is one of the latest institutions to unveil its plans, announcing on Monday that all undergraduate and graduate course instruction for the academic year will be held online. Nevertheless, the university plans to bring 40% of undergraduates, including all freshmen, onto campus.

Harvard President Larry Bacow said in a statement emailed to NPR that the ICE policy is “a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem.”

“We must do all that we can to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year, disrupting their academic progress and undermining the commitments—and sacrifices—that many of them have made to advance their education,” the statement said.

School reopening plans may be subject to change because of the evolving nature of the pandemic, especially with daily case totals continuing to break records in parts of the country.

In acknowledgment, the agency instructs schools to update their information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System within 10 days of making the switch to online-only classes.

Immigration lawyer McEntee, a former international student herself, said leaving for school can be challenging enough, not to mention during a pandemic and in a landscape of near-constant immigration restrictions. She called the new rule, both in substance and timing, “not right.”

“This is not the America that I think foreign students come to live in,” she said.

The American Council on Education, a higher education lobbying group, also condemned the rule change in a statement issued Monday afternoon. ACE President Ted Mitchell said the guidance “provides confusion and complexity rather than certainty and clarity” and called on ICE to rethink its position.

“At a time when institutions are doing everything they can to help reopen our country, we need flexibility, not a big step in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “ICE should allow any international student with a valid visa to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving his or her education online, in person, or through a combination of both, whether in the United States or in their home country, during this unprecedented global health crisis.”

Source: ICE: Foreign Students Must Leave The U.S. If Their Colleges Go Online-Only This Fall

Trump’s Immigration Order Targeted Women And Children

Striking and disturbing analysis:

Donald Trump’s June 22, 2020, presidential proclamationappeared aimed at preventing the entry of foreign workers. However, the proclamation had another, equally important target – spouses and children.

Why would Trump and his team try to prevent the entry of spouses and children in a proclamation whose stated purpose was to “protect unemployed Americans”? The answer lies in the administration’s policy of separating Central American families who crossed the U.S. border, which took public anger over recordings of crying children being held in detention facilities to end.

In October 2018, Donald Trump made his intentions in separating children at the border from family members clear. “We have people trying to come in like never before,” said Trump. “If they feel there will be separation, then they won’t come.”

A similar logic seems behind the presidential proclamation. Catherine Rampell, a columnist for the Washington Post, recently wrote about Vihaan Baranidharan, who is 7-years-old: “Vihaan is stuck in India, where he went to see his sick grandmother for what was supposed to be a short visit. Thanks to Trump’s order, he’s blocked from getting the visa stamp needed to return to Dallas. But Vihaan has not taken, nor has any plans to take, any American’s job . . . Vihaan just finished first grade.”

The text of the proclamation singles out spouses and children as a “threat,” which means preventing 7-year-olds from joining their mothers or fathers in America was an intended, not an unintended, consequence. The proclamation reads: “Temporary workers are often accompanied by their spouses and children, many of whom also compete against American workers.” As attorneys point out, the phrase “many of whom” is not true, even if one believed in the “lump of labor fallacy,” the discredited notion that there is a fixed quantity of labor needed in an economy on which the presidential proclamation is based.

“The universe of spouses and children entitled to work authorization in the U.S. is rather limited, so there’s scant economic rationale for barring them from entry,” said Vic Goel, managing partner of Goel & Anderson, in an interview. “Only spouses of L-1 and J-1 nonimmigrants are automatically entitled to apply for work authorization in the U.S, and spouses of H-1B workers qualify only when the principal H-1B worker has been approved or has experienced significant government delay for an application leading to permanent residence. Dependent spouses and children of H-2B workers are barred from working in the U.S., as are the children of H-1B and L-1 visa holders.” He also points out even if arriving dependents were eligible for work authorization, they would be unlikely to get approved before the end of the year.

After the harmful effects on families became publicly known, the Trump administration amended the proclamation to make it more restrictive. “Under the language of the original provision, having a valid visa of any category was sufficient to exempt an individual from the proclamation,” writes attorney Cyrus Mehta. “The amendment renders the proclamation even more restrictive, specifying that the visa must be a valid H-1B, H-2B, L, or certain J visas, and that the individual must be entering the United States pursuant to that visa to qualify for an exemption. . . . . Already, the proclamation is resulting in irreparable harm and separated families.”

Attorney Greg Siskind thinks families were targeted because Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the authority used in the proclamation, limits the president’s power to restricting entry. He believes the more restrictive interpretation of the proclamation and the language on families allows the administration to go after people inside the country. “In effect, they’re forcing people to self-deport because they have found a permanent way to keep families separated,” he told me.

By “permanent,” Siskind refers to the open-ended nature of the proclamation, which “ends” on December 31, 2020, but could continue for an additional 4 years beyond that date if Donald Trump is reelected and no court limits the proclamation’s scope. Siskind expects foreign governments to retaliate against U.S. companies and their operations overseas if employees of multinational companies continue to be prohibited from entering the United States to work. (The proclamation prevents L visa holders from transferring into the United States.)

Jeffrey Gorsky of Berry, Appleman & Leiden believes that by including children, as well as spouses who are ineligible to work, the administration made the proclamations (of April 22, 2020, and June, 22, 2020) more vulnerable to legal challenge, since the alleged reason for the proclamations were economic.

He also points out the perverse, some might even say cruel, impact of the administration’s actions. He gives the example of an L visa holder “stuck in Europe because of another travel ban currently in place that bars anyone physically present in the Schengen region from coming to the U.S. unless they have been outside that region for 14 days.” Although as a current visa holder the woman would be exempt from the proclamation, that would not be the case for a child if she gives birth. “The newborn child will be subject to the new travel ban because, unlike the child’s mother, the child will not have a visa valid at the time of the effective date of the ban,” according to Gorsky. “As a result, the mother can return to her employment in the U.S., but the infant is barred from the U.S. on the legal grounds that the infant’s admission would be detrimental to the interests of the U.S. as a threat to U.S. employment.”

In addition to the proclamation, the Trump administration has promised to rescind the regulation that allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to receive employment authorization documents (EADs); 93% of the spouses on EADs are women. The work authorization makes it easier for H-1B families to bear the long wait for employment-based green cards, which is what appears to have motivated administration officials to eliminate it.

A possible plan suggested in the June 22, 2020, proclamation could drive hundreds of thousands of long-time H-1B visa holders out of the United States. The plan, if the administration pursues it, would compel foreign nationals waiting years for employment-based green cards to go through “labor certification” again – a process in most cases completed years earlier – in the hopes many will not succeed, particularly if the administration changes the process to make it more difficult. Failure to pass a second labor certification could force H-1B visa holders waiting for green cards to leave the country.

“By barring spouses and children from entry when the principal temporary visa holder is already in the U.S., the proclamation inflicts much pain and suffering on those workers,” said Vic Goel. “It presents them with a choice of continuing their employment in the U.S. or leaving the country to be reunited with their family members.”

It appears those running U.S. immigration policy today do not believe it is sufficient to keep out highly skilled professionals, despite the economic cost to the nation. The evidence indicates Trump administration officials also want to drive out foreign-born scientists and engineers currently working in the United States. Separating high-skilled foreign nationals from their spouses and children as another way to achieve this goal is not only acceptable to administration officials, analysts note, it’s been planned out. As Donald Trump said about desperate Central American parents: “If they feel there will be separation, then they won’t come.”

Source: Trump’s Immigration Order Targeted Women And Children

Concerns about scientist immigration to the US have amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic

From the trade publication, Chemical & Engineering News:

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused research disruptions and career delays for many chemistry graduate students and postdoctoral scholars worldwide. But in the US, scientists were already worried about the effect that President Donald J. Trump’s administration is having on the flow of people coming into the country to study or work. Some are concerned that the pandemic is making that situation worse.

In the US, concerns about immigration have amplified

International student applications to the US have declined since Trump took office, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. The drop in applications is something that most experts attribute to anti-immigrant rhetoric from the administration.

The White House has moved beyond rhetoric during the pandemic. On June 22, Trump issued a temporary ban on H-1B and other non-immigrant visas often used by companies and universities to hire international scientists, including postdocs. He also extended a previous order that halted processing of some green card applications for permanent residency.

BY THE NUMBERS: INTERNATIONAL SCIENTISTS IN THE US

1.6 million

Number of international scientists studying or working in the US as part of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program in 2018, down 1.7% from 2017

70,000

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics students working in the US through an Optional Practical Training visa extension in 2018, up 8% from 2017

36%

Proportion of chemistry doctoral degrees awarded to students on a non-immigrant visa, out of a total of 2,810 degrees awarded in 2018

189

Scientists alleged by the US National Institutes of Health to have violated foreign-influence reporting rules since 2018; of these, 82% were Asian and 14% were white

54

Scientists who resigned or were dismissed from their jobs since 2018 because of alleged violation of US National Institutes of Health foreign-influence reporting rules

Sources: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Science Foundation, and National Institutes of Health

In addition, Trump has issued a vaguely-worded executive order limiting visitors associated with China’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” He also shut down some flights from China to the US. In Congress, a billsponsored by several Republicans would stop immigration from China altogether. Those moves could have a significant impact on scientists’ ability to get visas at the same time that closed borders and consulates along with canceled flights are keeping them from traveling.

Schools outside the US are taking advantage of the resulting uncertainty, says University of Chicago chemistry professor Weixin Tang. One example she has seen: a Hong Kong university is advertising for PhD students and postdocs, even though it isn’t their usual hiring season. “They’re opening up slots to recruit students and postdocs who were scheduled to come to the US,” she says. In addition,

In addition, attacks on Chinese scholars are of particular concern to scientists given the large numbers of students and postdocs in science fields, including chemistry, who historically have come to the US for training. Contributing to the unease are the US Department of Justice’s efforts to prosecute scientists who collaborate with China, an initiative started as part of a larger US-China trade war.

Peter Kilpatrick, provost at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), says his school has seen declining enrollment from China. The Chinese government does overreach in its technology-gathering efforts, he says, but “the vast majority of the people in China are not associated with the government, and they’re not responsible for espionage and [intellectual property] theft, etc. So the question is where do you draw the line? How do you parse who to throw the doors open to and who to say ‘We need to be careful.’ ”

Many universities are particularly concerned about rumored threats to optional practical training (OPT), which allows students and postdocs to extend their student visa to do internships or work in the US. For science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students, visas may be extended up to 3 years under OPT. Trump has so far not restricted OPT extensions, although he could still do so in the future.

At IIT, loss of OPT would be a threat to the institution itself, Kilpatrick says. The school relies on tuition from its large number of master’s degree programs.

“If OPT goes away, we lose all of our international students. I mean, what would be their motivation for coming?” he asks. Many people come to the US because they can combine getting a degree with the chance to get work experience and gain connections in the US. Without that, it could be “the death knell for higher education in this country,” Kilpatrick says.

Chuan He, a University of Chicago chemistry professor, says loss of OPT “would be a pure disaster.” OPT provides a critical opportunity at a key time in international scientists’ careers for them to transition from one job to another, and it is vital to keep highly trained students with critical skills in the country, He says. “We want them to stay, right?”

Computational and theoretical chemist Varun Rishi used OPT to work as a postdoc after he got his PhD at the University of Florida: first at Virginia Tech and then, since October 2019, at the California Institute of Technology.

Source: Concerns about scientist immigration to the US have amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic

Donald: Give us your wired masses, yearning to breathe free

Intriguing idea of Scott Gilmore (have seen similar suggestions from India and Europe):

Two historic developments have aligned to create a momentary and monumental opportunity for Canada.

First, we are weathering a global pandemic that has dramatically changed the way the world works. Suddenly, we are all discovering that the technology exists to allow many of us to work remotely, and to continue to be effective doing so. In fact, experts are predicting a sizeable portion of the workforce will choose not to return to the office when this is over.

At the same time, a tide of nationalism has risen in many western countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. There, governments are making it increasingly difficult for immigrants to arrive or to stay.

For example, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that cancels the H-1B visa category, which permits highly skilled workers, who have already been offered a job by an American company, to live and work in the United States. American economists and CEOs are horrified at the decision. Without these well-trained immigrants, Silicon Valley would still be pastureland.

And here is Canada’s golden opportunity: we should immediately offer residency to all 85,000 holders of H-1B visas, permitting them to live in Canada while they work remotely for their current employers in the United States.

The benefits to Canada are numerous and obvious. To begin with, this would not take any existing jobs from Canadians. There are legitimate (albeit mostly misplaced) concerns that our current unemployment crisis would be exacerbated by increased immigration. Holders of this visa would be permitted to remain only if they have a full-time job in the United States (or another foreign country) that can be performed remotely.

It would give Canada an instant boost in revenue. These new arrivals might be working in the U.S., but they’d be paying their taxes and spending their paycheques here. Our services industry is in desperate need of a boost, and with international travel facing a long recovery, relying on foreign tourism will not be enough. We can replace that by effectively transplanting billions in household spending that is currently rooted south of the border.

This new visa class would be a tremendous boost to our pool of creative and productive talent. Canada has traditionally been a runner up when it comes to attracting the world’s best and brightest. This has gradually been changing, but this new visa could accelerate the shift. We would inject some of the world’s brightest minds into our cities, and if the visa provided a pathway for citizenship, we could hold on to that talent and all the benefits it would bring.

As many public policy experts, demographers, economists and others have pointed out, we need more Canadians. We have an ageing population that will produce relatively less tax revenue to support a growing number of elderly people. And if we want to achieve our full potential, we need a critical mass of talented citizens to do so. This is an argument that has been best made by Globe and Mail writer Doug Saunders in his recent book ‘Maximum Canada’. This visa class is one of the easiest paths towards that goal. The U.S. government has basically pre-screened all these immigrants, vetted them for security and health issues, confirmed they are employable, and socialized them to living in a western democracy. We should be paying Washington for the privilege of taking these people off their hands.

This visa would be an obvious blessing for the would-be immigrants. Unwelcome in the U.S. and facing unemployment, they will be greeted warmly here and allowed to continue to do their work and even remain in the same time zone. What’s more, they will benefit from Canada’s high quality of life, and excellent (but improvable) health-care system.

They will also discover that the American Dream has moved north. Compared to the United States, Canada now has higher rates of employment, education and homeownership. We even have longer lives and more vacation days. And while working from home is not ideal, all of our major cities now have ample shared workspace facilities.

This visa is even good for American employers. First and foremost, they get to keep their talent. And, they would no longer have to pay extravagant health insurance costs. Even Donald Trump would welcome this move. In his mind, out of sight is out of mind and these would be just one less class of immigrants to worry about.

We could call this an IWFC: an International Work From Canada visa and offer it to more than just H-1B candidates. If someone has a high paying job in Paris that they can do on their laptop from Montreal, why wouldn’t we want them to do so? It is a new world, and we need to look at it from a new angle. As the global workforce shifts to tele-commuting, the idea of living in Whistler while managing a marketing team in San Jose is not only possible, it is logical.

If Canada were to seize this opportunity, we would have to do it fast. Other countries are likely considering something similar. Who wouldn’t? And, the American election is just months away. The political landscape could shift, and this incredible pool of talent might be allowed to remain in the U.S. Let’s act before then, let’s bring them home to Canada, before someone else puts out their own welcome mat first.

Source: Donald: Give us your wired masses, yearning to breathe free

Trump’s Freeze On H-1B Work Visas Disproportionately Affects Indians

Given the number of articles I have been seeing in Indian media, not surprising:

The Trump administration’s latest freeze on certain types of work visas, designed to protect American jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, is having a disproportionate effect on workers in India.

The executive order, signed Monday by President Trump, extends a ban on green cards issued outside the United States and adds several types of work visas to the freeze, including the H-1B visa for skilled workers. Last year, 72% of those visas were granted to Indians.

The change means tens of thousands of Indians who planned to come to the U.S. this year will have to scrap or delay their plans.

On Tuesday, Sunny Kumar Hirpara awoke in India to news of a temporary ban on his exact type of visa.

“I woke up at like 5 o’clock in the morning, and I saw the messages. I almost started crying,” Hirpara says.

Hirpara, 26, earned a master’s degree in the U.S. and landed a job as an electrical engineer in Irvine, California. In March, he returned to India to visit his parents and to convert his student visa to an H-1B, sponsored by his company. Then the pandemic hit. His paperwork was delayed.

“I’m sad that I invested five years studying in the U.S. and preparing for a job there,” says Hirpara.

Last year, nearly 280,000 Indians were granted H-1B visas or renewed them. New ones are capped at 85,000 annually. The process is now frozen through Dec. 31, 2020.

In some cases, families separated by the pandemic now face more time apart. Social media is flooded with pleas to lawmakers from H-1B holders who temporarily left the U.S. and worry they won’t be allowed back.

Many have advanced degrees and work for U.S. tech giants. Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted that he’s “disappointed” by Trump’s order. He was once an H-1B recipient from India.

“We as a country have been such a vibrant economy and society because of our ability to draw talent from around the world,” Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S.-India Business Council, tells NPR. “If we stop, I think that will adversely impact our ability to be at the top.”

India’s IT industry association called the freeze “misguided & harmful” and urged the U.S. government to shorten restrictions to 90 days. Some Indian IT companies with employees in the U.S. will also be affected.

Others, though, suggest that the visa freeze could be a boon to Indian companies, and even to the government.

“This is a fantastic opportunity,” Vikram Ahuja, co-founder of Talent500, a recruitment firm in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, told India’s NDTV channel. He said working from home — now common during the pandemic — could change how tech companies hire.

“The world is changing, and I think as long as great companies seek great talent, then location and physical proximity becomes irrelevant,” Ahuja said.

He said H-1B visa holders could even still work for U.S. companies, but from home in India — thus paying into Indian tax coffers instead of U.S. ones.

Source: Trump’s Freeze On H-1B Work Visas Disproportionately Affects Indians

Trump administration extends work visa ban, creating uncertainty for Canadians

The Canadian angle (applies more broadly of course, with India likely being the country most affected):

The Trump administration said Monday that it is extending a ban on green cards issued outside the United States until the end of the year and adding many temporary work visas to the freeze — including those used heavily by technology companies and multinational corporations — tossing a cloud of uncertainty over thousands of Canadians, including cross-border workers and their families.

The administration cast the effort as a way to free up jobs in an economy reeling from the coronavirus. A senior official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity estimated the restrictions will free up to 525,000 jobs for Americans.

The ban, while temporary, would amount to major restructuring of legal immigration if made permanent, a goal that had eluded the administration before the pandemic. Long-term changes targeting asylum seekers and high-tech workers are also being sought.

Business groups pressed hard to limit the changes, but got little of what they wanted, marking a victory for immigration hardliners as Trump seeks to further solidify their support ahead of the November election.

The ban on new visas applies to H-1B visas, which are widely used by major American and Indian technology company workers and their families, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, J-1 visas for cultural exchanges and L-1 visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.

There will be exemptions for food processing workers, which make up about 15 per cent of H-2B visas, the official said. Health care workers assisting with the coronavirus fight will continue to be spared from the green-card freeze, though their exemption will be narrower.

“In the administration of our nation’s immigration system, we must remain mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labour market, particularly in the current extraordinary environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labour,” Trump wrote in his presidential proclamation.

Potential effect on Canadians

These moves could affect thousands of Canadians. They are far more severe than an earlier immigration announcement from Trump in April, which affected only applications for permanent immigration visas.

The new provisions touch work visas used by many Canadians. Canadians filed more than 4,000 H-1B applications in each of the last two years, and numerous others would get L1 business visas in a normal year, including executives working for cross-border companies.

Source: Trump administration extends work visa ban, creating uncertainty for Canadians

With Stephen Miller pouring poison into Trump’s ear, the uncivil war rages on

Strong but accurate portrayal:

Does the Trump administration’s face of evil have a point?

Stephen Miller, the white supremacist who steers United States President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, and also serves as his xenophobic speechwriter, claims it is hypocritical for Democrats and progressives to decry the President’s planned political rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday as a coronavirus superspreader.

How can they do that, he asks, when they’re the same people who are encouraging and participating in massive protest rallies against racism and police brutality? Thousands of demonstrators milling together on streets, many of them without masks. It’s hypocrisy on stilts, Mr. Miller says.

He cited Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who extended her lockdown order at the same time as she was promoting mass street protests. And how about Florida congresswoman Val Demings, who is on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s shortlist for a running mate? She joined a major protest while blasting the President for his planned rally.

“There is almost assuredly going to be a spike in COVID cases and it will also almost assuredly be put on red-state governors and the President holding rallies,” Mr. Miller wrote in The Spectator this week. “But Democratic activists and politicians themselves created this situation.”

It’s too early to determine whether protests are contributing to a spike in COVID-19 cases. But progressives have to be careful about rhetoric and activities that play into the hands of the 34-year-old Mr. Miller and his Oval Office master. Campaigns to defund police departments, for example, are a godsend to Mr. Trump’s law-and-order campaign, as are protests that descend into violence.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday that the news media was “trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies.” Unconcerned about a new wave of the coronavirus plague, he will hold these rallies, no matter how dangerous they may be. Re-election, as he sees it, depends on the country getting out of its crouching, virus-defensive posture and back on its economic feet.

Despite U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence’s assertion that fears of a renewed virus outbreak are overblown, a dozen or so states, including Florida, Texas and Oklahoma – which is a heavily pro-Trump state – are still seeing a surge in cases.

While the anti-racism protests have been outdoors, where the virus is less contagious, the Trump team was planning on holding its rally in a packed indoor arena. But last-minute plans were being made to shift it to an outdoor venue. Mr. Pence said this was to accommodate huge crowds, but there was also pressure to do so for health reasons.

The Tulsa rally will be the President’s first in three months. The city was also the site of a massacre 99 years ago, when a white mob attacked Black residents of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, killing as many as 300 people. The Trump rally was originally planned to be held on Friday, June 19, which is known as Juneteenth, a holiday when many Black Americans celebrate their emancipation from slavery. But owing to the outrage the plan provoked, it was moved back a day.

Even so, the event is likely to heighten racial tensions. It will play to Mr. Trump’s base, as all his other measures do. The police reforms he announced this week were toothless. He has rejected calls to rename military bases honouring Confederate generals.

Mr. Miller has had Mr. Trump’s ear since day one, and is still pouring poison into it. Mr. Miller is a blank-faced, cold and uncompromising bigot. In most everything written about him, the word evil or something synonymous can be found.

He is architect of the ban limiting travel to the U.S. from many Muslim countries, harsh anti-refugee policies and Trump speeches berating immigrants. Last November, leaked e-mails between himself and a former Breitbart editor showed him promoting white nationalist propaganda and materials from white supremacist sites. A group of 27 senators sent a letter to the White House saying Mr. Miller was motivated by white supremacy, not national security, and demanded he be fired.

Firing Mr. Miller is the furthest thing from Mr. Trump’s mind. His campaign priority is hardly to attract Black voters. With the help of Mr. Miller, he has pretty much lost them all.

As many have noted in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the Civil War of the 1860s in the United States has never really ended. Mr. Trump and Mr. Miller are shamefully keen to extend it into this campaign.

Source: With Stephen Miller pouring poison into Trump’s ear, the uncivil war rages on: Lawrence Martin

Race, Ethnicity Data To Be Required With Coronavirus Tests In U.S.

Canada should follow suit (Canada should have led):

All laboratories will now be required to include detailed demographic data when they report the results of coronavirus tests to the federal government, including the age, sex, race and ethnicity of the person tested, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

The new requirement, which will go into effect Aug. 1, is designed to help provide long-sought, crucial information needed to monitor and fight the pandemic nationally.

“The requirement to include demographic data like race, ethnicity, age, and sex will enable us to ensure that all groups have equitable access to testing, and allow us to accurately determine the burden of infection on vulnerable groups,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The U.S. government has faced intense criticism for failing to gather such data on a timely basis. Many public health experts consider this information necessary to blunt the impact of virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 107,000 Americans.

During a congressional hearing Thursday, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, apologized for the agency’s slowness in gathering better data.

“I personally want to apologize for the inadequacy of our response,” Redfield said. “We didn’t have the data that we needed.”

Public health experts say what’s been needed are detailed breakdowns on how the virus is affecting African American and other minority communities. These groups appear to have been hit especially hard, suffering higher rates of infection, serious illness and death.

“One problem that epidemiologists in particular have seen with all of this new lab testing sites data (pharmacies, drive-throughs, non-traditional lab settings) is incomplete data,” Scott Becker of the Association of Public Health Laboratories wrote in an email to NPR. “The data guidance issued today will aid state and local public health officials to better do their job.”

Better testing data should help identify groups that are being hit hard by the virus and who require priority access to better testing and treatment. In addition, improved data will help health departments more quickly track down people who might have been exposed to the virus, to try to prevent new outbreaks.

“I am particularly encouraged that they plan to included demographic data, which will be important for helping us to better understand observed racial/ethnic and other disparities in case numbers,” Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told NPR via email.

Some state and local health officials, as well as some hospital and commercial labs, have complained that the federal government has issued confusing, contradictory and counter-productive guidance and requirements for testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also been criticized for combining the results of different kinds of testing in its tallies of testing, providing an inaccurate picture of the pandemic.

The new requirement comes as civil unrest has erupted in many places around the U.S. in response to police brutality and the killings of black people.

In announcing the new guidelines, Giroir singled out hospital laboratories and commercial labs for failing to routinely provide detailed demographic information with testing results.

Julie Khani, president of the American Clinical Laboratory Association, which represents commercial laboratories, defended the group’s members.

“Our members have faced obstacles tracking down missing information that is not collected or reported by the provider when the specimen is collected,” Khani wrote in an email to NPR, “and that’s why we’ve been engaged with providers, the CDC, public health agencies and others since the beginning of this public health emergency to ensure we’re doing all we can to collect this information.”

Source: Race, Ethnicity Data To Be Required With Coronavirus Tests In U.S.

Inside Trump’s Immigration Order To Restrict Chinese Students

Reading this interview, one has the impression that this is more virtue signalling to the base rather than addressing legitimate security concerns, like so many of the Miller/Trump immigration policies:

On May 29, 2020, Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation aimed at restricting the entry of graduate students and researchers from China. It is the latest immigration action to make it more difficult for foreign-born individuals to live, work or study in the United States.

In the 2018-19 academic year, there were 272,470 undergraduate and graduate students from China enrolled at U.S. universities, 84,480 of whom were in a graduate-level science and engineering program, according to the Department of Homeland Security. China is the number one source of international students to the United States.

To better understand the new policy and its implications, I interviewed Jeffrey Gorsky, senior counsel at Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP and former Chief of the Legal Advisory Opinion section of the Visa Office in the U.S. Department of State.

Jeffrey Gorsky: The proclamation bars the entry of or the issuance of visas to Chinese students to the United States who are in “F” or “J” status in graduate-level programs and who are or had been associated with PRC (People’s Republic of China) entities involved with the PRC’s “military-civil fusion strategy.” The proclamation defines that strategy as “actions by or at the behest of the PRC to acquire and divert foreign technologies, specifically critical and emerging technologies, to incorporate into and advance the PRC’s military capabilities.”

The proclamation also calls on the State Department to consider using its visa revocation authority to revoke previously issued visas in this category and directs the State Department and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the next 60 days to review possible immigration measures for other immigrant and non-immigrant visa classifications to deal with this issue.

The proclamation, which applies to persons in graduate-level programs, does not indicate whether the restrictions will apply to students seeking to enter the United States to work under post-graduation Optional Practical Training (OPT).

The most significant portion of this proclamation may be the part calling on the State Department to consider revoking visas. The State Department has practically unlimited legal authority to revoke a visa – the law says the Secretary of State may revoke a visa in his discretion at any time. The State Department will often revoke a visa if there is any concern about immigration eligibility, requiring the affected person to reapply so that the case can be fully vetted. The State Department may now follow up with widespread revocation notices, which will not affect people in the U.S. but would bar students outside the U.S. from returning until they receive a new visa.

Anderson: What should a Chinese student inside the United States do if they or their institution receive a notice that a visa has been revoked?

Gorsky: A visa revocation will prevent the student from traveling into the United States but will not have any effect on the student’s legal immigration status in the U.S. When students are admitted into the United States, they are given at the border a legal authorization to remain so long as they properly maintain their student status. Students are normally admitted at a port of entry for “duration of status.”

A visa is a travel document – it allows them to travel and apply to enter the United States, and is only for travel. If an individual’s visa is revoked, then he or she cannot travel back to the United States, but the authorization the individual received when first entering the country is not affected by the visa revocation as long as the person maintains student status. Although in theory a visa revocation can be used as the basis to put someone in removal proceedings, that authority is rarely used because it can be challenged in court.

Anderson: What is the best advice for current Chinese students and researchers who are already in the United States?

Gorsky: As long as the students remain in the U.S. in valid student status they should not be affected by the revocation even if the student receives a revocation notice.

Anderson: What do you think will be the practical impact of this policy on Chinese graduate students who apply for visas?

Gorsky: For students in valid status in the United States this will have little practical impact if they do not leave the country, for the reasons discussed earlier related to duration of status.

For those outside the country, if you are a graduate student from China currently not in the United States, at present (and this is not related to the new proclamation) you cannot apply for a visa now because visa processing has been suspended worldwide due to Covid-19 concerns.

Anderson: Once visa processing resumes, if the presidential proclamation remains in effect, what could a graduate student from China attempting to obtain a new visa to study in a science or engineering program in the United States expect?

Gorsky: The State Department has not issued guidance on how it will implement the new restrictions. It is likely consular officers will deny at the time of the interview those applications they determine meet the criteria cited in the proclamation and put any other questionable but not clearly deniable case into “administrative processing” while the case is sent for interagency clearance.

This will likely result in a significantly higher denial rate as well as more processing delays as the additional cases sent in for clearance clog up the interagency clearance system. Given the strict time frames of academic semesters, even delays in processing could effectively preclude students from beginning (or continuing) an academic program.

Anderson: In June 2018, the State Department started limiting the validity of student visas for Chinese nationals in graduate programs in what the department defined as sensitive subjects to one year, as opposed to the normal five-year validity. How does this new proclamation differ from existing U.S. visa policy?

Gorsky: This will be a much blunter tool than the current policy. There has been a longstanding procedure in place to vet and screen out students who present concerns about the transfer of sensitive technology.

U.S. immigration law contains a provision that renders ineligible for a visa or admission to the United States any alien who a consular or immigration officer knows or has reason to believe seeks to enter the United States to engage solely, principally or incidentally in any activity that violates or evades any law prohibiting the export from the United States of goods, technology or sensitive information. The State Department has an interagency clearance program in place called the “MANTIS” clearance process to determine whether students are involved in programs related to the Technology Alert List (TAL).

The broader language of the proclamation, which applies even to students who had minor and decades-old associations with PRC entities, could affect students who would otherwise be cleared in the MANTIS process and unnecessarily restrict access to the United States of talented students who make important contributions to U.S. academic institutions and America as a whole.

Anderson: What authority did the president use to issue the proclamation?

Gorsky: The president relied on his authority under section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which authorizes him to bar the entry of foreign nationals by proclamation upon a finding that their entry would be detrimental to U.S. interests, and similar authority under INA section 215(a). It is the same authority that he has used for multiple travel bans. This administration’s extensive use of the 212(f) authority, which has existed since 1952 (similar authorities date back to the Alien Enemies Act of 1798), is unprecedented.

Anderson: Do you expect the proclamation to have an impact on U.S. universities and employers?

Gorsky: The impact will be somewhat limited in that it will not affect current students. The worldwide suspension of visa processing remains in effect, and it is not clear whether the State Department will resume processing in time to bring in new students in general. If visa processing is resumed, this will have a significant impact on the entry of new graduate students from China.

Anderson: Do you think by blocking some number of Chinese graduate students this proclamation will protect U.S.-made technology or, as some critics say, be more likely to harm efforts in America to innovate and produce important research?

Gorsky: There is already a longstanding program in place to vet potential students based on concerns over the transfer of sensitive technologies. This proclamation will exclude persons from the United States based on past or minor associations with PRC entities even if the individuals pass the interagency clearance process.

The proclamation will damage the exchange of knowledge and talent. It may inhibit the ability of the PRC to access some technology that may have military implications but the Chinese military will have other sources in other countries. America will lose out on a valuable talent pool and the financial and scientific contributions these students make to U.S. universities and the United States.

Source: Inside Trump’s Immigration Order To Restrict Chinese Students

COVID-19 can’t be used as an excuse to limit skilled immigration

More commentary in the US business press on the risks to the US economy of restrictions on high-skilled immigration (H-1B and OPT:

Memorial Day is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the contributions immigrants have made to America. However, worrying news has emerged that the Trump administration plans to limit highly skilled immigration in an attempt to goose employment.

Such a policy shift would not only be deleterious to our nation, but an ill-founded solution to spiraling unemployment.

From the earliest days of the republic, immigrants have been vital to our national identity. Hot dogs andhamburgers are products of immigrants, and immigrants have played a part in founding iconic American companies like Google, Tesla, and Uber. But now, the administration and some lawmakers are using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to tear down programs that have helped bring talented workers and students to the U.S., where they are crucial contributors to our economy.

The two most prominent programs being targeted are H-1B visas and Optional Practical Training, or OPT. H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in occupations that require specialized knowledge and skills, with stays ranging from three to six years. OPT allows foreigners with student visas to work in the U.S. following graduation for periods between one and three years, depending on their field of study.

Restricting these programs could have an enormous impact on the tech and engineering fields. Many leading U.S. companies were founded by immigrants and depend upon these programs to employ talented international students and workers. About 18% of the entire labor force is foreign-born, with one in four STEM workers being an immigrant, according to an American Immigration Council analysis of American Community Survey data.

Furthermore, more than half of startups with revenues of $1 billion or higher have immigrant founders or cofounders, according to a National Foundation for American Policy study. And immigrants or children of immigrants are responsible for founding or cofounding 45% of 2019’s Fortune 500 companies, per New American Economy.

International students, who make up over 5% of American university students with more than 1 million studying here, contributed about $45 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018, according to the Institute of International Education.

Our health care system will also be at risk from a policy change. The pandemic has highlighted the role of health care workers in our society, so limits on highly skilled immigration could have fatal consequences for Americans.

Colleges are already fearing the impact of COVID-19 on enrollments and endowments; we are simply not in a financial position to reject qualified students who dream of studying and working in our nation.

To be sure, some schools operate as irresponsible “visa mills” that trade a substandard education for work opportunities in the U.S. But that problem can be solved by not extending H-1B and OPT authorization to students from those colleges and universities.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all of us, but this crisis should not be used as an excuse to allow xenophobia to stifle our future growth. The U.S. has been and always should be a nation of immigrants. Now more than ever, we must remember the importance of immigration, which has fueled technological ingenuity and economic productivity for our entire history, shaping America’s character as a symbol of freedom and innovation.

Welcoming highly skilled and talented foreign students and workers is our best path to promoting employment of native-born Americans. We need great minds from all corners of the world to preserve America’s technological prowess, social diversity, and economic vitality. Preserving the H-1B and OPT programs will benefit us all.

Source: COVID-19 can’t be used as an excuse to limit skilled immigration