Editorial: You are welcome here

A message of welcome from American higher education to foreign students is necessary in our current political climate.

Daily Editorial Board

With the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban comes another example of how driven our current administration is to put forth policy fueled by fearmongering, all while trying to skirt accusations of Islamophobia with the inclusion of Venezuela and North Korea on the list of countries whose citizens are refused visas. It is obvious from how few people of said countries will actually be affected by the ban that it is simply a Trumpian (read: ineffective and transparent) attempt at deflection. Trump and his administration have long exhibited Islamophobic tendencies, the cultural results of which have been chilling and even dangerous. Blatantly anti-Muslim sentiment has increased in the U.S., evidenced by the Council On American-Islamic Relations’ figures that show a 15 percent rise in hate crimes and a 17 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents between 2016 and 2017. Racists and bigots feel comfortable openly expressing their bias in Trump’s America. For the sake of our country and the well-being of our Muslim and Muslim-American friends, neighbors, teachers and citizens, these sentiments must be loudly and emphatically rejected.

This travel ban could also be costly for higher education and for the U.S. as a whole. Based off the April 2017 version of the travel ban, NPR reported on a study that it would cost the U.S. economy $500 million, based on how much students from the affected countries bring into our economy each year. International students from across the world bring enormous amounts of money and talent, but the number of international students enrolled in U.S. universities has declined in general since Trump took office, dropping around 4 percent between 2016 and 2017. The Trump administration has been making it increasingly difficult for students to obtain visas, with a recent example being the new policy limiting the visas of Chinese international students to one year. Such actions will only continue to discourage individuals from learning, teaching and researching in the U.S., to the detriment of us all.

Higher education needs to do all it can to combat the hostile message the Trump administration is sending to international students. The #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign is an example of this, whose mission statement upholds that “…our institutions are diverse, friendly, safe and committed to student development.” The goal is to spread the welcoming message of acceptance through any kind of creative expression — photos, videos and more. A show of solidarity is absolutely necessary at this moment when our government is actively bigoted and many American citizens are following suit with displays of prejudice and anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments. The University of Minnesota is driven to do world-class research, and, despite being part of the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, they should make further statements in support of the talent that will propel us forward. We are in strong support of the students, faculty and staff who are affected by this ban and by an intolerant administration. You are welcome here.