Get Out and Stay Out

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on December 12, 2019 about how the Trump administration is making it very hard for persons of “extraordinary ability” to obtain visas to enter the U.S. The approval rate for petitions based on “extraordinary ability” filed by professional athletes, scientists, professors and industry executives has fallen from 82.1% in 2016, to 69.4% in 2018 to 56.3% in 2019.  The facts of several specific cases mentioned in the article are so ridiculous that it would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious to the rejected applicants and to our country.  One immigration lawyer interviewed for the article said, “I feel like we’re living in the Twilight Zone; …it’s just become absurd.” 


Trump promised voters to stop illegal immigration even though he hired illegal immigrants for years to work at his resorts and properties.  Then he later bemoaned what he saw as the low quality of the immigrants coming from “s___hole countries” and wondered aloud why countries couldn’t send their best.  Now, the policy seems to be that we don’t want even the best. 


During Christmas two years ago a friend from TAMU who is a research scientist invited us to a Christmas party at his home.  Almost all of those attending were part of his research team.  The scientific research is so far over my head I can’t begin to describe it, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with the human genome.  Most seemed to be in the 25 to 35 age group and most were not from the U.S.  All were very cordial and happy to be at the party.  These young people were from all over the world.  All spoke English and were interested in talking about my profession.  This was a great relief to me inasmuch as I was wholly incapable of discussing their scientific research with them.  My friend is a world class scientist who is doing important work and this was his team.  It was an eye-opener for me.  Because at the time Trump was ratcheting up his anti-immigration rhetoric and, as I recall, had recently imposed the Muslim ban, I asked my friend what impact Trump’s anti-immigration policies were having and could have upon his research.  As we stood to the side of the room, he told me with pride about the educational attainments, awards and honors of each member of his team.  It was clear I was standing in the midst of a group of geniuses.  My friend concluded by saying that there was no question he could not do his research without people like this and that Trump’s policies were already having a bad effect because he has to compete with other countries to attract scientists of this caliber.  You and I both know that there are many, many research teams just like this at TAMU and at universities and companies all over the U.S. and the world.  If we want to successfully compete, we must attract the best, brightest and most talented the world has to offer.


It all started with fear mongering about hordes of brown-skinned people invading our southern border.  You know, the rapists, murderers, drug dealers and terrorists.  Then it was about people from Muslim countries because we know for a fact all Muslims are terrorists who hate the U.S. Now it’s about people of “extraordinary ability.”  I guess we don’t want them because we already have enough people of extraordinary ability and we don’t want too many?