President Donald Trump may rant and rail about trade deficits in a global economy that he says rips America off, but one market the U.S. has cornered for decades, to the broader benefit of us all, is higher education. The world's students — Asia's especially — flock to our undergraduate and graduate schools in numbers unrivaled by any other nation, often paying top-dollar tuition to study here.
It may not stay that way for long, and Trump's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will be to blame.
A healthy country would do everything possible to keep a million-plus foreign students coming, and not only because they contribute $45 billion annually to our economy. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. billion-dollar startup companies had a founder who first came here as an international student, according to a 2018 study.
But because of the COVID-19 pandemic — which, in no small part due to failures by the Trump administration, will likely still be raging in late 2020 and possibly 2021 — many of America's colleges and universities, including Harvard, Rutgers, Princeton, Georgetown, are being forced to move most classes online.
To which ICE now tells students who came thousands of miles to study here: tough luck. If their educations go from in-person to all-virtual in the fall, foreign students will have to leave.
Trump, who has insanely said "almost every student that comes over to this country [from China] is a spy," may pretend he's standing up for America. He's actually punching all of us in the face.