The short- and long-term costs to the United States of the Trump administration’s attempt to deport foreign students

Sherman Robinson (PIIE), Marcus Noland (PIIE), Egor Gornostay (PIIE) and Soyoung Han (PIIE)

Working Paper
20-11
July 2020
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

On July 6, 2020, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced modifications to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program eliminating temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking all classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning in the fall 2020 semester. Foreign students violating the rule would be subject to deportation. Under public pressure, the Trump administration rescinded the order on July 14. Had the policy been implemented, more than 1 million foreign students studying in the United States could have been deported. The authors use an economywide simulation model to estimate the economic impact on the United States if the policy had been implemented. They find that the policy would have cost the US economy up to 752,000 jobs and $68 billion in lost GDP in the short run. Their estimates are larger than those reported in other studies because they consider both direct and indirect effects of the policy. In the long run, the move would have reduced the research productivity of American universities and adversely affected research, innovation, and entrepreneurship across the economy, in both the private and public sectors.

Data Disclosure: 

The data underlying this analysis are available here [zip].

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Sherman Robinson Senior Research Staff
Marcus Noland Senior Research Staff
Egor Gornostay Senior Research Staff
Soyoung Han Former Research Staff

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