At What Cost?

Autumn 2020

Professor contributes to case against ICE regulations

In July 6, when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued new guidelines that would require foreign students to leave the country should their American colleges and universities move to remote education, Colgate joined dozens of its peers in condemning these guidelines. In support of a lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT, Colgate signed an amicus brief.

Chad Sparber, W. Bradford Wiley Chair in international economics at Colgate, contributed further support to the successful legal challenge in the form of policy briefs that he compiled with colleagues from the University of California–Davis and Queens College–CUNY. One brief, “The Devastating Economic Consequences of Pushing Foreign Students out of the Country,” was published through UC Davis.

“This abrupt and arbitrary change to migration and education policy will inflict lasting and unnecessary damage to international students, and risk massive economic losses to U.S. higher education and to the U.S. economy overall,” the experts noted.

The paper went on to detail the consequences of ICE action. In the short term, those included an immediate reduction in the $41 billion and 450,000 jobs that foreign students have historically generated for the U.S. economy. Taking a broader view, Sparber and his colleagues noted that the barring of foreign students could also impact higher education as an intellectual commodity that currently generates financial returns “roughly equivalent to total exports of wheat, corn, coal, and natural gas.”

Although ICE rescinded its policy on student visas in mid-July, at press time, the Trump administration policy was still suspending processing of skilled worker visas such as the H-1B or L. “This will not only affect many of our students as they enter the workforce,” Sparber says, “but it also impacts Colgate’s hiring as well.” As part of an ongoing legal challenge, he has filed an evidentiary declaration with the District Court of the District of Columbia outlining the economic benefits of immigration.