Since I last wrote about this topic on May 13, many of you have responded to our call to Take Action. To date, over 400 mathematicians have written their congressional delegations using the link. Senators and Representatives in 35 states have already been contacted. I am grateful and humbled by this immense support for our international students and colleagues.
On April 30, the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) had its biannual meeting. JPBM decided to, and has now issued a statement concerning potential impacts of the April 22 Presidential Proclamation Suspending Entry of Immigrants Who Present Risk to the U.S. Labor Market During the Economic Recovery Following the COVID-19 Outbreak. The statement was sent to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). OSTP head Kelvin Droegemeier joined us for part of the JPBM meeting; the immigration proclamation was one of several topics we discussed with him.
JPBM is particularly concerned with Section 6, “Additional Measures”, which mandates that a review be undertaken of all “nonimmigrant programs” with the intention of ensuring “the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers.” We are concerned about the broad nature of the directive outlined in Section 6 and the implications it carries for nonimmigrant visa programs and our international students.
The full JPBM statement is found here: https://bit.ly/2XhgYgT
The expectation is that President Trump will extend and expand the initial April 22 order. Among the programs the administration is expected to restrict is Optional Practical Training (OPT), which permits foreign STEM students on F-1 visas to work in the U.S. for up to three years post-graduation. The JPBM letter is part of a very large effort to prevent such extension and expansion. Additionally, the AMS was one of 36 scientific societies writing on May 20 to the White House about this. On May 21, a group of over 300 higher education groups and businesses wrote them about L-1, H-1B, F-1, and H-4 nonimmigrant visas and OPT. Each letter takes a slightly different angle, and all efforts amplify the others.
I am not optimistic about this and find it personally quite disturbing. I’m a second/third generation American, married to a non-US citizen and–like almost anyone I imagine reading this–have so many friends, students, and colleagues who will be negatively affected by further changes of the types being discussed to these programs . President Trump is using this vehicle (of Presidential proclamations) to put in place immigration policies being pushed by his senior advisor Stephen Miller, and considered a plus for his re-election. Articles like this Politico article and this Forbes article discuss this, and give more letters and talking points on this topic. This is a moving target; stay tuned.
JPBM consists of the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. The four societies have nearly 90,000 members, and the Board represents the mathematics and statistics community in policy discussions.