It’s helpful that the Center for Immigration Studies has dug into the problem of excessive foreign students attending US colleges. The practice is a scam that has directly harmed young Americans for years by reducing the number of college slots available while the population of students keeps growing.
Plus, state universities prefer the full tuition that foreigners pay rather than the lower amounts paid by residents: In 2016 it was reported that the University of California lowered standards for more lucrative out-of-staters including non-Americans. In the fall 2018 enrollment, only 76 percent were California residents.
Interestingly, foreign students are seen by some as a wonderful affirmation of America’s educational excellence, but their presence has no value at all for US students. The university elites like to talk about the benefits of diversity, but they never mention its financial advantage from foreign students to the institution.
Furthermore, as the CIS panel points out, there are larger dangers to the nation when the university money grubbers admit even America’s worst enemies from around the world. As Dan Cadman mentions in his presentation, students can get into convenient positions to steal secrets and strategies for the dear homeland. It’s crazy to make it so easy for our enemies to steal America’s important knowledge.
President Trump complains about Red China’s theft of intellectual property, and he has fought back with higher tariffs. But it would be more effective for him to end foreign student visas from China and some other places like Iran and North Korea (!).
Here’s Dan Cadman’s discussion of the national security risks associated with crazy liberal acceptance of foreign students:
DAN CADMAN: The United States, by virtue of its technological prowess, by virtue of its openness, has always been a beacon to people coming to study. And that brings with it a great deal of good for the United States. There is no doubt that when people come to the U.S. and study here for a significant period of time, a matter of years, they get to know something about our society, our culture. Hopefully, that translates into a positive sense of the U.S. and its peoples. And that bodes well particularly when those individuals go back and become in their own countries leaders, political influence makers. But by the same token, because of the size of the nonimmigrant population in the United States at any one time, it poses unique questions and problems of control.
Foreign students are nonimmigrants; that is to say, temporary visitors. But unlike other temporary nonimmigrants, who may be admitted for 90 days or six months, in point of fact, when a foreign student or a research scholar is admitted to the United States they’re admitted for the duration of their status, which is to say for a period of years until their studies conclude, which might be at the undergraduate or at the graduate and postgraduate levels. What that translates to is that an individual may be here anywhere four, six, or eight years and be operating in, for U.S. society, the most open of environments, which is to say institutions of higher learning.
This can be a good thing, but the reality for government security officers is that it creates, as Mao Zedong once said, a sea in which fishes can swim. And although Mao was speaking about guerrillas among the people, it’s equally true that foreign student and exchange scholar populations, by virtue of their size, their diversity, and the openness of the campus environments, act as a perfect place in which people who are engaged in espionage or people who are of malintent can conceal themselves without any real serious possibility that they’re going to be detected, at least not until in the fullness of time. There are just too many people for government officers and government intelligence agents and counterintelligence agents and law enforcement to keep up with. And that basically is the sum and substance of the problem, or at least one dimension of the problem.
The other dimension is that over the course of the past few decades, because of the cost of higher education particularly for people who are paying at the highest levels, which international students are, it becomes very lucrative for universities to fill their campuses with people whose governments are often paying the cost of their tuition and the cost of them living in the United States for that period of time. And the consequence of that is that it has the de facto effect of over the course of time squeezing native-born citizens out of a lot of positions. And this is particularly of concern where STEM – science, technology, engineering, mathematics – subjects are concerned.
It is leading, in a sense, to an atrophying of U.S. native-born graduates in those studies. And the consequence is for industry and government afterward, including the Defense Department, the Energy Department, there is a dearth of people who they can bring on who are in a position to pass government security checks because those aren’t going to be available to foreigners. And this has caused a great deal of concern over the course of some number of years.
Touching on the concerns about espionage, it’s significant that every FBI director going back several decades, when they speak about national security concerns, has addressed the unique problems that they confront with the foreign student population. And that is because they acknowledge that functionally it’s beyond their capacity to monitor and control the number of people who come into the United States to study every year.
And by way of example, every year from 2013 to 2017 there were more than 2 million admissions per year of nonimmigrant students and exchange scholars. Now, it’s important for me to point out that an admission is not the same as a human being because, obviously, a human being could leave temporarily – say on vacation or to go visit family – and then come back. But even if you were to assume that each individual departed and came back at least once, that still means at any point in time a population of foreign students and scholars in the United States exceeding 1 million, and that’s on the low side.
It is without doubt a problem for U.S. security and counterintelligence officers to keep track. And it’s not just the number, but the diversity of the places that these individuals come from because, surprisingly, many of them come from places that are either actively hostile to the United States or are in fierce global competition with the United States for predominance, whether that’s militarily or in trade or technology.
By way of example, the International Institute for Education says that during the 2017-2018 academic year there were 363,341 Chinese students enrolled. And that’s just students; that’s not the exchange scholars. And that probably didn’t include vocational students who may be attending things like pilot school or even maritime schools of various kinds. There were almost 13,000 Iranian students here, 7.5 thousand Pakistani students, 5.5 thousand Russian students, 44,000-plus Saudi Arabian students. There were more than 10,000 Turkish students. There were even 726 Syrian students. And those are just touching the surface. In addition, you have students from Afghanistan, from Cuba, from North Korea.
And an interesting thing when you look at the Department of Homeland Security’s Statistical Yearbook, when you look for the numbers some of them are categorized as “D.” And when you look at “D,” that means “data is withheld to limit disclosure.” Why would the Department of Homeland Security exhibit an interest in withholding information about North Koreans studying in the United States? I find that curious in the extreme – and disturbing, frankly.
You have more than 18,000 Venezuelan students here, and probably a good number of those are opposed to the Maduro regime. But then a good number of them will also be advocates of the Maduro regime because one constant about governments that are particularly authoritarian or are particularly focused on what they want is that they find it in their own interests to seed the foreign student population with people who are sympathetic with their aims.
And a good example, although not the only example of that, is China, because China is very focused on where it wants to go, what it wants to achieve, where it wants to be with its global dominance. And for the Chinese government, espionage is, you might say, a family affair. Everything is geared toward accruing technological advantage. And if that means they can short-circuit the time and money on research by stealing secrets, whether that’s in the defense and military sector or in the trade secrets sector, they’re going to do it.
And not all of the people who come here by any means, of course, engage in espionage, but some do. And not all of them are government security or intelligence officers. Some of them are spies of opportunity. They are inculcated into the idea that it is patriotic for them, if given the chance, to take advantage of things that are open to them. And they are encouraged when the opportunity arises to fit themselves into niches where they’re going to have the opportunity to see those secrets that they can pass back home. And if even only one in 10 or one in a hundred people are doing this, when you have hundreds of thousands of people studying inevitably you’re going to accrue very large benefit from that.
And while I’ve talked about China, even more aggressive in that regard is Iran. And Iran, it would less likely be spies of opportunity. Iran is going to be salting its foreign student population, after it’s thoroughly vetted them, to make sure that their beliefs and interests coincide with that of the theocracy of the Islamic Republic. That is where I think the difficulty lies.
It’s compounded by the fact that in recent years, in truth, the Department of Homeland Security and even its predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, walked away from any kind of meaningful enforcement and control of the student population or of the university systems that host these individuals. In theory, the federal government holds in its hand the ability to withhold or withdraw from an institution of learning the right to host foreign students. In practice, that almost never happens. And David will speak to that I’m sure, can speak to that very effectively. But the point is that unless and until something is done, this unfettered situation that we find ourselves in will remain, and that’s untenable.