Chinese students make up most of the international students in the US
President Trump once considered banning all student visas for Chinese nationals in an effort to prevent spies from infiltrating the US.
According to the Financial Times, the Trump administration considered banning Chinese students from studying in the US to combat espionage.
White House aid Stephen Miller reportedly pushed the president to prevent all Chinese citizens from studying in the US. His advice came after the White House released a national security strategy saying it would “review visa procedures to reduce economic theft by non-traditional intelligence collectors.”
Miller also advised that the band would hurt elite universities that were critical of Trump.
Administration opponent and former Iowa governor who is a US ambassador to China Terry Branstad argued Miller’s initiative would damage smaller colleges more than wealthy Ivy League ones.
The US Embassy was also less enthused by the proposal, arguing that American states enjoy service sector trade surpluses with China due to spending by Chinese students.
Branstad eventually convinced the president of his argument, with Trump responding, “not everyone can go to Harvard or Princeton, right?”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “the US government had agency, White House principles and presidential agreement on the final decision. It was supported by relevant stakeholders.”
Immigration expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank Edward Alden said, “turning away foreign students would do enormous damage to the US economy. The US has long attracted the lion’s share of the world’s most talented immigrants because they come here initially to attend the world’s best universities.”
“If we shut off that pipeline, the US will become poorer and weaker,” he added.
Between 2016 and 2017, Chinese students made up the most international students in the US. 350,000 Chinese nationals were enrolled over the academic year. Indian students were the next biggest contingent comprising of 186,000.