On Monday, July 6, 2020, at the instruction of the Trump White House, ￼the federal Student and Exchange Visitor Program announced that, “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.” It added that “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…. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
With that announcement, the likelihood of the deportation, in government lawyers’ language carefully baptized in neutral phraseology as “the initiation of removal proceedings” became immediate and traumatizing factors in their lives.
It adds to the list of xenophobia and spoken words, fundamentally, against almost all forms of immigration by President Donald Trump. He’s opposed to, and has suspended the H1-B and L-1 visas.
Whatever President Trump’s￼ motivations might be, ￼ I do know and believe that his actions and decisions on this issue are, strategically, ￼misguided. They do not serve the interests of the United States in this competitive high tech environment.￼
And, you ask why?
My answer is simple: ￼both visas are the building blocks from where all of the largest technology corporations, here in the United States of America, ￼attract and hire￼ some of the world’s most intelligent mobile technologies and ioTs specialists, social media, ￼data and algorithms experts and students!
I have witnessed and participated in the engaging digital genius of the diversity of talents shown by some of these individuals during my first attendance as a member of the BBC-PRI World Technology Forum, in San Francisco, in 1993.
It is through those visas that Apple or Google or Microsoft legally sponsor the exceptionally gifted and hard-working computational science programmers who power ￼the Amazon juggernaut in Seattle and the Googleplex in Mountain View. They make things “happen” inside, around Silicon Valley, Half Moon Bay, Cupertino, Menlo Park, San Francisco; in my nearby city of Austin Texas; and continents away in Mumbai, India etc.
I have been to all these tech cities, except Mumbai; and I’ve learned a lot.
These students who come to the promising shores of the U.S will study in person or online via Zoom or FaceTime to fulfill and feed their quest for education.
I know that education is a catalyst; the kickstarter for the mind and intellection. Consequently, the most potent instruments of indoctrination, propaganda and persuasion are, organically, rooted into the systematics of formal or informal ￼education.￼
It was the great statesmen and icon Nelson Mandela who said that
“education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation.”
Without any doubt, such is the power of education.
Hence, in the early 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, American colleges, organizations and individuals offered scholarships￼ to many students who will turn out to become the new leaders of their countries.￼ Around the centers of power and influence in Washington DC, being “American-trained” technocrat, ordinarily, gave such a person a contextual, advantageous consideration.
There was competition between the east and the west; between communist, socialist countries and the capitalist, relatively free market forces driven economies over who will offer more ￼scholarships and educational opportunities.
In a practical sense, Nigerian and African students will be affected, as much as the long-term business and acculturation interests of the United States. It is a quixotic, self-serving, diversionary action by a deliberately divisive man; the President who is stuck in the shibboleths of confederacy of the 19th century American South, and continues his nakedly racist vernacular of degradation and subjugation of mainly persons of African descent.
How did “God’s own country” get to this unusual, giddy and vulgar twists in its modern history?
Dr Chido Nwangwu is the Founder of USAfrica Multimedia Networks and Public Policy Organisation since 1992 in Houston.