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Courtney Highlights Importance of International Students, Comments from UCONN’s Geno Auriemma During Education & Labor Committee Hearing

July 13, 2020
Press Release

ICYMI earlier this week, Rep. Courtney (CT-02) and the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing titled A Major Test: Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of Higher Education. The hearing came following Monday’s new guidance by the Trump Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that could force some international students to leave the U.S.

During the hearing, Rep. Courtney spoke with the President of the American Educational Research Association, Dr. Shaun Harper, about the impact that the new Trump Administration rule would have not only on the U.S. economy—international students account for billions of dollars in revenue each year—but also on college campuses themselves.

 “Strictly from a pure monetary standpoint, there are about a million international students that are enrolled in the U.S.,” said Courtney. “That’s about $41 billion in terms of revenue. […] Obviously, I think as you can attest, the policies of this Administration […] just really flies in the face of what we’re hearing today about the fact that we need a regulatory structure that needs to be flexible given the COVID emergency. […] We’re just in a  place right now where we just have to incorporate [online learning], and having these arbitrary policies that are now talking about deporting people really puts educators in an impossible position about having to balance things like staying on the right side of federal government, and trying to protect their students.”

 Dr. Harper noted the important role of international students in creating diverse campuses, and in helping colleges and universities live up to their stated goals of preparing their students for success in a globalized democracy.

 “Those policy actions are not only arbitrary, as you’ve noted,” stated Dr. Harper, “but they’re also, I’m afraid, xenophobic […]. I wrote that particular consideration in my written testimony before we got the news on Monday about the ICE deportations. I somehow had a scary suspicion that this Administration would find some way to target Chinese students and international students from other countries. It is so important to note that international students make our colleges and universities better. They afford American students the opportunity to interact with people who bring diverse viewpoints. So many colleges and universities articulate in their mission statements a commitment to preparing students for citizenship in a global democracy. Well if that’s the case, we need international students here to afford our students that kind of learning opportunity.”

 Rep. Courtney, who represents Storrs, CT and the University of Connecticut, went on to note that the new rule also negatively impacts thousands of student athletes. Courtney highlighted that Huskies Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma recently spoke on the unfairness of the new rule, calling out a double standard between student-athletes and professional athletes.

 “We’ve had a lot of press in Connecticut about student athletes,” Courtney continued. “I think the NCAA calculates that there are about 20,000 international students as part of the NCAA. Geno Auriemma, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Coach, was in the press talking about three student-athletes that are in his program—one from Croatia, one from Poland, and one from Canada—who are now basically unable to get into the country. But to his credit he pointed out in the press, and I’m quoting him now: 'Not just athletes, but kids who are enrolled here going to school. What is the issue here? Why can’t we get that resolved? So what? Because they don’t make $20 million a year playing in the NBA, or Major League Baseball, or the NHL?”

 “Because obviously ICE has waived and allowed visas for athletes in professional sports, but not college sports. So, we’re dealing with these contradictions that are pushing pressure on campuses to reopen more than maybe it’s safe given where they’re located, as well as creating these different classes of people from overseas that can come here and enrich our country.”

 To watch Rep. Courtney’s full exchange with Dr. Harper, click here.