Foreign students here, American students abroad

The Institute for International Education released its 2017 report on foreign students here and American students studying outside the U.S. Here are some highlights:

In 2016/17, for the second consecutive year, U.S. colleges and universities hosted more than one million international students, reaching a record high of 1.08 million.

But new students (enrolled in the Fall of 2016) declined by nearly 10,000 students to about 291,000. This is the first time that these numbers have declined in the twelve years since Open Doors has reported new enrollments.

The scaling back of large Saudi and Brazil government scholarship programs were a significant factor, as the number of students from those two countries showed the biggest decreases, particularly in non-degree study. Much of the increase reported for the past couple of years can be attributed to more students pursuing Optional Practical Training (OPT) related to their academic fields after their degree studies, and thus remaining longer in the U.S. higher education system.

45 percent of the campuses reported declines in new enrollments for fall 2017, while 31 percent reported increases in new enrollments and 24 percent reported no change from last year.

While this year’s Open Doors report shows strong growth in the number of international students studying in the United States in the past decade, with an increase of 85 percent since 2006/07 (when there were fewer than 600,000 international students in U.S. higher education), the new findings signal a slowing of growth, with a three percent increase compared to increases of 7 to 10 percent for the previous three years.

Modest increases in the numbers of international students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees were partially offset by a decrease of 14 percent in the numbers enrolled in non-degree programs, including short-term exchanges and intensive English language programs.

Americans Studying Abroad

The report shows that 325,339 American students received academic credit last year at the home campus for study abroad in 2015/2016, an increase of four percent from the previous year. Study abroad by American students has more than tripled in the past two decades; however, the rate of growth had slowed following the financial crisis in 2008.

The top host destinations for U.S. students studying abroad in 2015/16 were the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. China dropped out of the top five host countries, as the number of U.S. students studying there decreased by 9 percent. Europe was the top host region, attracting more than 50 percent of Americans who studied abroad.

Executive Branch tightens up legal immigration


The Customs and Immigration Service has been tightening up the flow of legal immigration. This from Bernard Wolfsdorf, past national president of the 14,000-member American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Joseph Barnett, both of Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP:

“USCIS is now issuing lengthy detailed requests for evidence contesting every issue and requiring unreasonable quantities of proof in regard to any application for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa or adjustment of status.

“USCIS is adjudicating nonimmigrant visa applications with the goal to “create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests.” Immigration petitions should include an argument on how the issuance of a visa or other immigration benefit promotes these policy goals.”

The Wall Street Journal adds, “H-1B applications for positions at the lowest pay level are getting particular scrutiny, with the government questioning whether the foreigner holds required specialized skills, according to several immigration attorneys. A directive from the agency specifically questions whether a computer programmer is a specialty occupation that qualifies for the visa. Many of these applications are being denied, attorneys say.”

The WSJ cites the following other changes in administrative practice:

*Eliminate a provision that spouses of H-1B workers have the right to work.

*Kill the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign graduates from U.S. colleges in science and technology an extra two years of work authorization, giving them time to win an H-1B visa.

*USCIS directed last month that adjudicators no longer pay “deference” to past determinations for renewal applications. This means an applicant’s past approval won’t carry any weight if he or she applies for a renewal.

*The agency is conducting more applicant interviews, which critics say slows the system. The agency spokesman said this process will ramp up over several years and is needed to detect fraud and make accurate decisions.

*In the spring, the agency suspended premium processing, which allowed for fast-track consideration to those who paid an extra fee. This option wasn’t resumed until October, meaning many workers who qualified for a coveted H-1B visa had to wait months for a decision.

Biggest settlement ever for hiring undocumented workers

The government settled in September with a company for $95 million over past used of undocumented workers. This is the largest settlement ever with an employer over illegal employment.

The Trump administration is, in effect, going after employers with the threat of huge fines, and avoiding the worksite raids which, around 2006, caused terrible press. This strategy is consistent with my prior comments that this administration will drive as far as possible to throttle immigration through Executive Branch initiatives that do not require the participation of Congress.

The government’s press release includes: “Asplundh Tree Experts, Co., one of the largest privately-held companies in the United States, headquartered in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty today [Sept. 29, 2017] to unlawfully employing aliens, in connection with a scheme in which the highest levels of Asplundh management remained willfully blind while lower level managers hired and rehired employees they knew to be ineligible to work in the United States.

“The $95,000,000.00 recovery, including $80,000,000.00 criminal forfeiture money judgment and $15,000,000.00 in civil payment, represents the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case.

“According to court documents, from 2010 until December 2014, Asplundh, an industry leader in tree trimming and brush clearance for power and gas lines, hired and rehired employees in many regions in the United States accepting identification documents it knew to be false and fraudulent. A six-year HSI audit and investigation revealed that the company decentralized its hiring so Sponsors (the highest levels of management) could remain willfully blind while Supervisors and General Foremen (2nd and 3rd level supervisors) hired ineligible workers, including unauthorized aliens, in the field. Hiring was by word of mouth referrals rather than through any systematic application process. This manner of hiring enabled Supervisors and General Foremen to hire a work force that was readily available and at their disposal.

“This decentralized model tacitly perpetuated fraudulent hiring practices that, in turn, maximized productivity and profit. With a motivated work force, including unauthorized aliens willing to be relocated and respond to weather related events around the nation, Asplundh had crews which were easily mobilized that enabled them to dominate the market. Asplundh provided all the incentives to managers to skirt immigration law.”

Trump voters and the sharp rise of cultural diversity from nil

Tom Edsall writes about how Trump won many localities which saw their minority populations from virtually zero in the past 15 – 20 years.

“Where are the overwhelmingly white localities experiencing the most rapid rate of minority population growth, although the absolute numbers themselves are small? They are in the part of the nation’s heartland — Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — where Trump earned enough Electoral College support to win the presidency even as he lost the popular vote.”

In my own research I have recorded, “For the first 80 years of the 20th Century, immigrants stayed largely along the coasts and the Mexican border. After 1980, the immigrant population rose almost three times and spread into most counties in the country. Sixty-two million people speak a language other than English at home today.”

A study published in 2010 showed that anti-immigration sentiment increased noticeably in communities with relatively rapid in-migration and much faster in these communities when immigration became a national political topic.

The Center for Immigration Studies looked at the foreign-born populations in each county for 1990, 2000 and 2014.

In 1990, one could correctly guess the counties with an immigrant share of at least 5% by estimating what the nation’s county map look liked during Kennedy Presidency: New York City and New Jersey, southern New England, Washington DC, South-Central Florida, Chicago, the three rows of counties along and away from the Mexican border and three counties away, California, and isolated counties bordering Canada. The only concentration that might surprise people are happened in many counties in Washington State.

CIS reported that between 1990 and 2014 the number of counties in which at least a fifth of the population over 17 was foreign born rose from 44 to 152. Now almost all the counties along, west and south of a line from Seattle to Houston have at least a 5% immigrant population. So do many southern and upper Midwest counties. Since 1990, the immigrant share of adults has more than quadrupled in 232 counties (usually starting with very low rates such as 1% to 3%). The Center speculates that resistance to immigration is especially strong in small towns where the foreign-bon population became visible in recent decades.

Georgia’s Stewart County went from under 1% to 23% immigrants. In the ten years from 2000 through 2010, the Hispanic population went from 1.5% to 24%, causing the county to increase its total population for the first time since the 1900 census.