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Nothing Foreign Students Can Do About Presidential Proclamation 10043? No Way!

In May 2020, when Donald Trump was still in the White House, he signed off a presidential proclamation, or PP 10043, to please the American right-wing racists and his “followers”. The policy suspends or restricts those currently or once employed by organizations connected to the “Military-Civil Fusion strategy, and prohibits “entry of those who once have studied or conducted research in organizations supporting or implementing the “Military-Civil Fusion strategy” into the United States as a nonimmigrant of any national of the PRC to pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the United States”. While the long and complex syntax of the statement may have confused the parents of overseas students, the damage it has caused for the students are real and painful.

The ambiguous descriptions and unwarranted charges against those young students, meant that US visa officers can randomly refuse F/J visa applications from any foreign students or scholars, who in their eyes, have supposed links to certain establishment in their majors or research interests.

This presidential proclamation has been regarded as a “devil’s policy”, because it “mis-fires” many innocent students and scholars on their way to the United States. Countless facts over the past two years have also proved, PP10043 with its illogical implementation and ambiguity, has become THE reason for American visa officers to randomly refuse the visa applications that should have been approved to foreign students.

At present, many foreign students and scholars have been refused for entry because of this policy, with thousands of overseas students’ OPT/F/J visas been revoked for no reason. It’s still happening around us, even in the Biden administration, that one starts to wonder why – Biden has promised to “repair the United States”, to eliminate many of the racist evils from the Trump era, and to repair relations and exchanges with other countries. For whatever reasons, he’s not making it happen.

Until now, PP 10043 is still standing in the way of many students in pursuit of their master’s and doctorates in the United States, unable to obtain their F visas on time; students on exchange are having their J visas pending, so are their families on visit; For those who put overseas studies in their career plans – be it the young students yet to exchange and transfer schools, or yet to graduate from high school, or researchers and academicians on post-doctoral tracks –  they see no hope to set theirs steps onto the land the United States, let alone their families who wish to accompany them; There are also quite a large size of students employed on OPT (optional practical training), who hesitate to leave the United States, fearing they won’t get back in, or losing the eligibility to apply for the H1B visa; the same goes for those whose F and J visas are expiring thus in need of renewal, no way to let it happen as expected…

In May 2021, at an Open Day event held by the embassy, US diplomat was still telling students who were inquiring about the policy: “This (refusal of visas) is determined by an internal list, which is dynamically updated.” The fact is, the ban is not limited to students of a particular circle, but to students from other colleges and universities in general – the abuse of the proclamation has implicated many other innocent professionals in their routine life and communication, only on the grounds that they are not “American citizens”.

One of Georgetown University’s studies found that, the proclamation so far may have affected 3,000 to 5,000 Chinese students, representing some 20% of the students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematical disciplines in the U.S. each year.

Do the students cave in, facing the obvious injustice and racism?

Starting from the summer of 2022, international student organizations have marched on a long journey to file a lawsuit against the United States government, which district courts have just received. Students studying in the United States, collectively or individually, have decided to defend themselves with legal action, and rise from united efforts fight back, with the help of strong supporters – the large number of anti-racist activists and immigration lawyers, who are happy to join the league and defend civil rights and pluralism. With overseas students feeding them solid victim stories, these professionals will work out a way. Below are the reasons.

1.Public opinion and propaganda in the United States are constantly articulating on social justiceand equity, portraying itself as the beacon of freedom. However in the White House, the US president was busying signing off policies based on racial discrimination, depriving Chinese students of their fair rights to acquire knowledge and conduct research in the United States – nothing hurts the “beacon” more than the inconsistency and hypocrisy. It also hurts the mechanism  built on fair competition that has sustained the education industry and research in the United States for the past years.

2.The mainstream media in the United States and the current Biden administration have been emphasizing the revival of the American education industry and its research. However, PP10043 is shaking the industry hard, as it has deprived scientific research institutions and university professors of options, leaving them unable to recruit the talents more worthy of training, and it is the American colleges and universities (especially science and technology programs) that have to bear more economic losses than political losses. According to a Forbes study, research institutions unable to recruit fresh heads from talent exporting countries such as China for several years to come, will likely cause hundreds of billions of dollars in royalty losses to the United States in the next decade.

3.PP10043 was raised on grounds of racism, oreven fascism. Seriously violating the founding values of the United States, it raised questions on where the United States is standing on its claim to be the beacon of “pluralism” and “immigrant culture”. It is even unconstitutional (the United States Constitution itself is a masterpiece of pluralism). The prosperity and vitality that draws generations of immigrants to the beacon, was founded on the belief that American society has no tolerance on racism, a noble course that countless civil rights lawyers and social activists have pushed forward for decades after World War II. Now the history was set back half a century later with PP10043, a situation where the civil rights activists can’t just turn their heads away, thus they become the natural allies of students in the plight.

Although the lawsuit filed by the students against the U.S. government is ongoing with no definitive outcome yet, the anti-discrimination alliance has successfully rebelled against several unfair and unreasonable bills introduced by previous administrations since 2019.

This time, students to study in the United States set up the “Academic without Borders” group, sending petition letters to 50 American universities on behalf of more than 1000 discriminated international students, and asked educational institutions and media from various countries for help. There has been an outcry on social platforms and media, calling on more people of insight to unite against the ban based on racial discrimination.

So far, a number of well-known English media have spoken for them, and overseas student organizations are still contacting more influential media to make voices heard. Among them, there is the high-profile academic media Science, and the high-audience-rating mass media CNN.

American colleges and universities have also made a positive response to the joint letter. The Association of American Universities (AAU), together with 39 other institutions, sent a letter to the State Department expressing concerns and requisitions briefing on why 10043 has not been repealed. Hoorays to the milestones of the students fight-back with legal efforts and media engagement.

In fact, due to the ungrounded “guilt inference” of PP10043 and the obvious intention of racial discrimination, as long as there is sufficient media coverage alongside the unsettled lawsuit, the buzz will have an impact on the United States and the world. On the other hand, as the voices from the lawsuit students continue to grow, the Biden administration, which attaches great importance to “political correctness”, will certainly realize the damage ensued to the credibility of the United States as a country, if more agree with its openly discriminating nature against the foreign students.

The damage caused by PP10043 will only deepen, as major media report on the two sides of the debate and trigger more public opinion campaigns. Referring to the H1B litigation process, regardless of the outcome, the Biden administration is likely to take the initiative and lift the proclamation “in order to safeguard the global image of the United States”. Local court might also ban the proclamation, as it “clearly stands against American values”. After all, the policy is creating ultimate detriments that might even crush the foundations of American order and prosperity.

It is reported that the students’ lawsuit against the US government will hold a hearing later this month. At that time, how Biden continues the racial discrimination policy of the Trump era is likely to become the focus of attention within the Democratic Party, and beyond.

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