Experts: Cancellation of US-N. Korea Meeting Suggests Snag in Talks

The abrupt cancellation of high-level talks between the United States and North Korea suggests denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have hit a snag, experts said. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the North Korean Central Committee, in New York City last week. However, the meeting was abruptly called off at the last minute. 

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Thursday that Pyongyang canceled the meeting, in which discussions about the second summit between leaders Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were to take place.

“I do think the talks are going to be rescheduled,” said Haley. “And it doesn’t change the fact that the summit is still scheduled for the president and Kim to meet after the first of the year.” 

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said, “This is a case [where] we are dealing with a purely scheduling issue, and it’s just simple as that.” 

After the cancellation, Trump said, “We’re going to make it at another date.” He continued, “But we’re very happy how it’s going with North Korea. We think it’s going fine. We’re in no rush. We’re in no hurry.” 

Despite these assurances from the Trump administration that the talks will resume, experts remain skeptical. 

It’s ‘stuck’

“I think it is more than a scheduling issue,” said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a global affairs research group in Washington. “The negotiation process appears stuck.” 

Evans Revere, a former State Department official who negotiated with North Korea, said he thought the cancellation of the talks indicated that negotiations about denuclearization had stalled because of growing differences between Washington and Pyongyang. 

“There is a serious gap between Washington and Pyongyang over the issue of denuclearization,” said Revere. “There is an equally major gap on the issue of sanctions, with [North Korea] pushing for the U.S. to remove sanctions in order to improve relations and build confidence between the two sides, and the United States making clear that sanctions easing will not happen unless and until North Korea verifiably denuclearizes.” 

Breaking the impasse on denuclearization, according to Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, will be difficult as neither side wants to back down from its position. 

Kimball said, “The cancellation of the meeting between Secretary Pompeo and Vice Chair Kim Yong Chol is disappointing but not surprising, given that neither side appears to be ready to take the necessary action-for-action steps on denuclearization and peace that would move the process along.” 

Gary Samore, the White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction during the Obama administration, said the meeting was called off because Washington and Pyongyang realized progress is unachievable at this time. 

“I assume the meeting was delayed because both sides realized that significant progress is not possible at this time, due to the major differences between the U.S. and [North Korea] on denuclearization,” said Samore. 

Direct talks with Trump

Michael Fuchs, deputy assistant secretary of state for eastern Asia and Pacific affairs during the Obama administration, said he believed Pyongyang was delaying lower-level negotiations to stave off pressure until it talked directly with Trump. 

“I think that it’s a reinforcement of a notion that the North Koreans are trying to drag out this diplomacy as long as possible and that they want to deal as much as possible directly with President Trump,” said Fuchs.  

After Pompeo went to Pyongyang in October, Steve Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, was expected to meet with North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui. But that meeting never took place.

The deadlock in the Washington-Pyongyang talks cast doubt on prospects for North Korea’s denuclearization, experts said. 

“At present, I see no imminent prospect for real dismantling of [North Korea’s] nuclear weapons program and facilities,” Manning said. 

According to Revere, Pyongyang believes it can keep nuclear weapons and maintain its relations with Washington at the same time. 

“I continue to believe that Pyongyang does not intend to give up its nuclear weapons capability,” said Revere. “I also continue to believe that [North Korea] believes it is possible to have normal relations with Washington and Seoul and keep its nuclear weapons.” 

Instead of demanding complete denuclearization, Samore said, a realistic prospect is to limit North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. 

“Complete denuclearization was never a realistic prospect,” said Samore. “The only question is whether North Korea will accept meaningful limits on its nuclear program.” 

Critical report

On Nov. 8, Pyongyang rejected a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that expressed concern over North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear program. The agency described this as “deeply regrettable and clear violations of relevant United Nations Security resolutions.”

North Korea’s ambassador to the U.N., Kim Song, said in a letter addressed to the president of the U.N. General Assembly, “The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency neglects the positive developments of the Korean Peninsula this year and is consistent with prejudices and distortion.” 

“This shows that the IAEA has lost its impartiality as an international organization and is being abused for impure political purposes,” the ambassador said. 

More than a dozen undeclared missile bases were identified in new satellite images of North Korea, according to a report released Monday by Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank in Washington. Trump responded by calling the report “fake news”  adding “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new — and nothing happening out of the normal.” 

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Texas Restores Keller Lesson; Other Curriculum Changes Loom

Bowing to public criticism, the Texas Board of Education voted Tuesday to restore Helen Keller to the state’s history curriculum — but board members were still mulling scrapping lessons on Hillary Clinton while preserving hot-button instruction about how Moses influenced the nation’s Founding Fathers and how the states’ rights issue helped cause the Civil War. 

The move came after its 10 Republicans and five Democrats heard hours of often impassioned testimony from students, teachers, activists and academic experts who in some cases defended — but more often decried — proposed edits meant to streamline academic standards for history.  

A final vote is scheduled Friday and the board can still make changes before then. 

Texas has about 5.4 million public school students, more than any other state but California. Teaching board-approved lessons isn’t always mandatory, but its sanctioned curriculum can affect what’s published in textbooks. Texas is a large enough market that its curriculum sometimes influences what goes into materials used elsewhere around the country — though that’s been less true in recent years as technology allows for tailoring what’s taught to different states and even individual school districts. 

For years, culture war clashes over how to teach history, as well as instruction on topics like evolution and climate change in science courses, have kept Texas’ Board of Education in the national spotlight. In September, it voted to preliminarily cut lessons on Clinton, the former secretary of state and unsuccessful 2016 presidential candidate, as well as Keller, an iconic activist who was deaf and blind. 

One of Tuesday’s most emotional moments came when a hearing and visually impaired student named Gabrielle Caldwell, 17, spoke about how Keller was the only connection many people have to the deaf and blind community. 

“I am hoping you keep Helen Keller being taught in our schools,” Caldwell said. “She’s a hero.”  

Hours later, the board voted to restore Keller to third-grade curriculums. There was little discussion and the lone objection came from David Bradley, a Beaumont Republican, who noted that Keller later in life voiced public support for eugenics.  

Keller aside, historians and college professors have for years criticized the board for putting politics over academics. But Board of Education Chairwoman Donna Bahorich, a Houston Republican, argued in an op-ed that the September moves weren’t partisan, noting that its members also voted to remove “conservative icon” Barry Goldwater, who ran an unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign. 

Lessons that ask students to explore Moses’ influence on political thinkers at the time of the founding of the United States have been in Texas curriculums since 2010. A panel of experts had proposed cutting those, but the board voted in September to preserve them. It also retained language that students learn how the “Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict” in the Middle East. 

The board also was mulling approval of language that sectionalism and states’ rights were “contributing factors” to the Civil War, while sanctioning language that slavery was a “central cause” of the conflict. 

Nearly 200 historians and scholars have signed a petition circulated by the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog group and frequent board critic, which says the standards “resurrect the ’Lost Cause’ myth, a long-discredited version of history first promoted in the late-19th and early 20th centuries to glorify the Confederate past and reinforce white supremacist policies.” 

After hearing pleas from testifiers Tuesday, the board also voted to restore a previously trimmed second-grade lesson about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, civilians who flew during World War II and were the first U.S. women to pilot military aircraft. 

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‘Megafire’ That Torched Town Now Common in California 

Paradise, California had long prepared for wildfires but only in its worst nightmares did it imagine the kind of “megafire” that last week destroyed most of the town and killed at least 42 people.

Born of tinder dry conditions and erratic winds, the “Camp Fire” was the latest California megafire, a huge blaze that burns more intensely and quickly than anything the state has experienced before.

In recent years authorities in California have reported an increase in such large, explosive and swiftly spreading wildfires over a virtually year-round fire season.

Four out of the five largest fires in California history have occurred in the last six years.

No rain for over 200 days

Paradise had not seen significant rain for 211 days, and the town, on a ridge in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, was surrounded by a potential bonfire of dry or dead trees following a five-year drought that ended in 2017.

Less rain and longer droughts are the major cause of the blazes, which consume more than 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares), according to recent research by the U.S. Forest Service and University of Montana.

After a wildfire destroyed 87 homes in Paradise in 2008, the town of 27,000 put evacuation plans in place and fined homeowners if they did not clear brush and prune trees to reduce fire risk.

But all it took was some kind of spark on Camp Creek Road, west of Paradise, and “El Diablo” fall winds gusting up to 50 mph (80 kph), to unleash the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California history.

‘Not getting on top of it’

As the blaze roared west, devouring nearly 6,500 homes, it created its own fire whirlwinds or “firenados,” incinerating an area equivalent to 80 American football fields (100 acres) per minute.

“This event was the worst case scenario. It was the event we have feared for a long time,” local sheriff Kory Honea told reporters.

This has been one of the state’s worst fire years, with nearly twice the acreage burned so far compared with 2017 in areas managed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Minimizing the impact

Former U.S. Forest Service officials such as Jerry Williams say too much emphasis is put on fighting fires instead of accepting that they are a natural part of the environment and minimizing their impact. Forests that for millennia had fire as part of their ecosystems have become choked with growth and unhealthy, and ultimately tinder for megafires, he said.

“Every year we set a new record, we invest more in suppression, invest less in mitigation and wonder why we’re not getting on top of it,” Williams, a former director of fire and aviation for the U.S. Forest Service, said in an interview.

Fire officials say the trend to larger, more destructive fires is driven by drought-stricken vegetation, erratic winds and triple-digit temperatures that are part of climate change.

President Donald Trump has blamed California’s failure to thin fuel-choked forests.

Many factors

Cal Fire spokeswoman Lia Parker said there were a lot more factors at play than cutting down trees.

“A lot of it is climate related; we’ve seen a significant increase in temperatures; we’ve seen an increase in dry and dead conditions,” Parker said.

As the Camp Fire raged, similar conditions nearly 450 miles to the south were fueling the Woolsey Fire, which killed two people and destroyed 370 homes near Los Angeles.

“It was a fire storm, the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Malibu resident Tony Haynes, 59, who fought the blaze as it threatened his home.

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Норвегія заявила про заглушення Росією сигналів GPS під час навчань НАТО

Міністерство оборони Норвегії звинуватило Росію в причетності до збою системи GPS під час військових навчань НАТО. Як повідомляє агентство Associated Press, норвезьке міністерство закордонних справ вже зв’язалося з цього приводу з Росією.

Подібні звинуваченя на адресу Росії висловлювала і Фінляндія.

Москва відкидає звинувачення Норвегії. Член комітету Ради федерації з оборони Росії Франц Клінцевич заявив, що влаштовувати збій GPS Росії «просто було не потрібно», а заступник голови комітету Держдуми з оборони Андрій Карасьов назвав звинувачення «черговою спробою демонізувати Росію».

Фінляндія та Норвегія брали участь у масштабних навчаннях альянсу, найбільших за десятки років, які завершилися 7 листопада.

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Російська влада заявляє, що скасувала заборону Навальному виїжджати за кордон

Заборона на виїзд за кордон російському опозиційному політику Олексію Навальному скасована після сплати ним усіх заборгованостей, повідомила Федеральна служба судових приставів Росії у коментарі агентству ТАСС.

«Повідомляємо, що після того, як службою була підтверджена інформація про наявність невиконаного судового рішення (про стягнення матеріальних збитків на користь кіровського обласного підприємства «Кіровліс» – ред.) і застосованих у зв’язку з цим обмежень, боржником Навальним О. А. оперативно і в повному обсязі сплачена заборгованість. Усі накладені обмеження і заборони у виконавчому провадженні скасовані», – заявили у Федеральній службі судових приставів.

Опозиціонер заявляв, що на прикордонному контролі в аеропорту в нього забрали паспорт «для проведення спеціальних перевірочних заходів», а потім заборонили виїзд із Росії. За його словами, він прямував до Страсбурга на оголошення рішення Європейського суду з прав людини.

ЄСПЛ 15 листопада має винести останнє рішення за позовом Навального про його затримання під час масових заходів з 2012 по 2014 років.

У лютому 2017 року ЄСПЛ вже постановив, що Росія повинна виплатити Навальному 63,7 тисяч євро – за сім затримань на мітингах в 2012 і 2014 році, повідомляється на сайті суду.

За словами Навального, російські правоохоронні органи неодноразово незаконно затримували його під час масових зібрань, а також висували звинувачення в скоєнні адміністративних правопорушень, пов’язаних із порушенням порядку проведення публічних заходів або з відмовою підкорюватися органам правопорядку.

Суд прийняв ці аргументи: в його рішенні сказано, що російська влада порушила права опозиціонера на мирні зібрання і неправомірне обмеження свободи. У шести випадках ЄСПЛ також побачив порушення права на справедливий розгляд. Претензію про дискримінацію за політичними мотивами суд вирішив не розглядати, тому що затримання Навального були визнані неправомірними.

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ЄС має йти до створення справжньої європейської армії – Меркель

Європейський союз повинен рухатися в бік створення своєї «справжньої європейської армії», заявила, виступаючи у Європейському парламенті у Страсбурзі, канцлер Німеччини Анґела Меркель.

«Німеччина продовжуватиме підтримку постійного структурного співробітництва у сфері оборони ЄС, і, з огляду на еволюцію минулих років, нам слід розробити єдине бачення, яке одного дня нам дозволить створити справжню європейську армію», – вважає німецький канцлер. 

Меркель пригадала, що чотири роки тому цю ідею вже висунув голова Єврокомісії Жан-Клод Юнкер, додавши, що «спільна європейська армія мала б засвідчити світові, що ніхто не ітиме на ЄС з війною». 

«Європейський союз достатньо потужний і, згуртувавшись, повинен взяти свою долю у свої руки, щоб до нього прислухалися у світі, щоб захищати свої цінності й інтереси. Закінчилася епоха, коли ми без зайвих вагань могли розраховувати, що нас захистить хтось інший… Але не йдеться про європейську армію, яка націлена проти союзу НАТО, а якраз навпаки: вона його доповнюватиме», – пояснила Меркель. 

На початку листопада про необхідність створення «справжньої європейської армії», щоб дозволити Європейському союзові захищати себе від Китаю, Росії і «навіть Сполучених Штатів» виступив і президент Франції Емманюель Макрон. 

Майбутній вихід з ЄС Великої Британії, яка тривалий час виступала проти європейського військового співробітництва, відновив розмови про таку співпрацю, а також занепокоєння щодо того, що президент США Дональд Трамп може бути менш схильним надавати  допомогу Європі на тлі агресивних дій Росії, ніж його попередники. 

У Радіо Свобода також є цікаві новини, які не потрапляють на сайт. Читайте їх у Telegram-каналі.

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US VP Pence Seeks ‘Update’ on Trade Talks with Japan

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday that he was looking forward to an “update” on talks about a bilateral trade agreement that President Donald Trump hopes will cut Tokyo’s trade surplus with Washington.

Pence, who is in Tokyo at the start of a broader Asian visit, also said he would discuss with Abe how Tokyo and Washington could work to advance the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and said the United States remained committed to a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

“I look forward to our candid conversation and to an update on the discussions toward a bilateral trade agreement” that Trump and Abe agreed to initiate at a summit in September, Pence said at the start of his talks with Abe.

“I also look forward to discussions on how we can continue to work closely on advancing the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Pence said, adding, “We are grateful Mr. Prime Minister for your strong and steadfast leadership.”

Trump has criticized Japan over trade, asserting Tokyo treats the United States unfairly by shipping millions of cars to North America while blocking imports of U.S. autos and farm products.

Japan says its markets for manufactured goods are open, although it does protect politically sensitive farm products.

Before meeting Abe, Pence met Finance Minister Taro Aso, who had said before that meeting that he did not expect to discuss possible auto tariffs with the vice president.

In September, Abe and Trump agreed to start trade talks in an arrangement that appeared, temporarily at least, to protect Japanese automakers from further tariffs on their exports, which make up about two-thirds of Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the United States.

Japan has insisted the new Trade Agreement on Goods would not be a wide-ranging free trade agreement, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said he was aiming for a full free trade deal requiring approval by Congress.

The U.S. Commerce Department has submitted draft recommendations to the White House on its investigation into whether to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on imported cars and parts on national security grounds, two administration officials said in Washington.

In June, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump pledged to work toward denuclearization at a summit in Singapore, but there has been little headway on specific steps.

A planned meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials in New York on Thursday was cancelled.

The State Department gave no reason for the delay.

A U.S. think tank said on Monday it had identified at least 13 of an estimated 20 undeclared missile operating bases inside North Korea, underscoring the challenge for U.S. negotiators to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Japan has said it will not normalize relations with Pyongyang until it takes irreversible and verifiable steps to dismantle its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and reveals the fate of all Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents and return any who may still be alive.

After meeting Abe, Pence will head to Singapore for a meeting of regional powers and then to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Papua New Guinea.

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Поліція Македонії видала ордер на арешт колишнього прем’єра

Поліція Македонії видала ордер на арешт колишнього прем’єр-міністра Николи Ґруєвського, якого суд раніше засудив до двох років ув’язнення у справі про корупцію.

Представник Міністерства внутрішніх справ Тоні Анґеловський заявив, що ордер на арешт Ґруєвського був виданий 12 листопада після рішення суду.

9 листопада суд відхилив остаточну апеляцію Ґруєвського на вирок.

Колишній лідер опозиційної партії VMRO-DPMNE Ґруєвський був засуджений у травні до двох років ув’язнення за звинуваченням у незаконному впливі на посадовців Міністерства внутрішніх справ після придбання дорогого автомобіля вартістю в 600 тисяч євро.

Але судовим виконавцям не вдалося встановити місце перебування Ґруєвського, щоб передати йому рішення.

48-річний Ґруєвський був прем’єр-міністром у 2006-2016 роках. Він є колишнім лідером головної опозиційної консервативної партії VMRO-DPMNE, яка стверджує, що його політично переслідують.

Ґруєвський ще має постати перед судом у трьох інших справах про корупцію, в яких йому загрожує більший термін ув’язнення, ніж за ухваленим нещодавно вироком.

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Опозиціонерові Олексію Навальному заборонили виїжджати з Росії

Російському опозиціонерові Олексію Навальному, який прямував до Страсбурга на оголошення рішення Європейського суду з прав людини, заборонили виїзд із Росії. Про це він написав на своїй сторінці в Instagram.

За словами Навального, на прикордонному контролі в аеропорту в нього забрали паспорт «для проведення спеціальних перевірочних заходів».

Пізніше опозиціонер написав у Twitter, що прикордонники повідомили йому, що є якийсь лист, що виїжджати заборонено, але пояснень чому – немає.

ЄСПЛ 15 листопада має винести останнє рішення за позовом Навального про його затримання під час масових заходів з 2012 по 2014 років.

У лютому 2017 року ЄСПЛ вже постановив, що Росія повинна виплатити Навальному 63,7 тисяч євро – за сім затримань на мітингах в 2012 і 2014 році, повідомляється на сайті суду.

За словами Навального, російські правоохоронні органи неодноразово незаконно затримували його під час масових зібрань, а також висували звинувачення в скоєнні адміністративних правопорушень, пов’язаних із порушенням порядку проведення публічних заходів або з відмовою підкорюватися органам правопорядку.

Суд прийняв ці аргументи: в його рішенні сказано, що російська влада порушила права опозиціонера на мирні зібрання і неправомірне обмеження свободи. У шести випадках ЄСПЛ також побачив порушення права на справедливий розгляд. Претензію про дискримінацію за політичними мотивами суд вирішив не розглядати, тому що затримання Навального були визнані неправомірними.

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Fewer Foreign Students Apply to US Universities

The U.S. still attracts record numbers of international students, but the sticker shock of college tuition and negative political rhetoric is slowing down the robust rate of application seen over the past decade.

The U.S. remains the top destination in the world for more than 1 million visiting students — hosting more than double the next country, the United Kingdom. But while 1.5 percent more students studied in the U.S. last year, the rate of new enrollments — specifically, undergraduate students — declined by 6.6 percent, a trend first seen the preceding year, according to the Institute for International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors report.

“These relationships are critical in a competitive marketplace,” said Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, bringing $42 billion and 450,000 jobs to the U.S. economy.

But tuition costs — around $20,000 a year for public institutions to more than $70,000 for elite private universities — make the U.S. look less attractive to international students, as global competition increases, educators said.

Sixty-five percent of international students rely on “international funding sources” said IIE spokesperson Catherine Morris, “with well over half of all students (59 percent) funded through their own personal and family funding.”

Among undergraduates, 82 percent rely on personal and family funding. Most are not eligible for financial aid at U.S. schools.

Over the past 30 years, said Rajika Bhandari, research and strategy senior adviser at IIE, costs increased 213 percent at U.S. public institutions and 130 percent at private U.S. institutions.

Foreign countries have taken note and are attracting students with far less expensive tuition and pathways to permanent residency or citizenship.

“There are real competitive countries out there. It used to be Britain and America,” said Allan Goodman, IIE’s president and former executive dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. “Governments, as part of their international policy, want more students from there and here. The U.S. has real competition.”

“Canada,” said Moninder “Holly” Singh, senior director of Arizona State University’s International Students and Scholars Center, “they’ve done an amazing job at taking the market from us. It doesn’t seem obvious in the U.S. … They are creating pathways that are simpler than us.”

Once an international student graduates in Canada, they can get permanent residency status after working for one year. “Here,” Singh said, “we have people from China and India who might be here 15 years before they can get that.”

Pathways to citizenship are important to international students whose home countries have not reached the same quality of life and excellence in education. Many students — the best and brightest immigrants from their countries — want to work in the U.S. before returning home. Or they want to stay in the U.S., where freedom, excellence and innovation have been hallmarks of the economy.

China and India send nearly half of all international students, 363,341 and 196,271, respectively, to the U.S. A currency correction in India two years ago wiped out funding sources for many students there hoping to head to the U.S. And Chinese students, who dominate the population of international students, report growing discontent with paying full tuition next to subsidized domestic students.

“The current financial model for higher education isn’t sustainable,” offered Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. “We can’t raise tuitions and have burgeoning loan debts” for international or domestic students.

The Open Doors report is “really an urgent call for colleges and universities to take a comprehensive look at the way we deliver education,” said AACU’s Pasquerella. “I worry that some institutions are relying on old models and are so tuition-driven, and that we need to look at alternative sources of revenue. It requires us to be innovators.”

In addition to costs, international students and their families tell educators they are daunted by political rhetoric, feeling unwelcome and wondering if the U.S. is a friendly and safe place to study. The Trump administration’s immigration policies have limited student visas and how they are administered.

“We became complacent that we’re a preferred destination,” said Robin Lerner, president and CEO of the Texas International Education Consortium, “and we suffered from an over reliance on a number of countries where governments were funding large numbers of students” like Saudi Arabia and Brazil.  

However, Lerner added, “while there are many factors that enter a student’s decision-making, political rhetoric that makes students feel unwelcome or unsafe does not help.”

Safety issues, too, trouble international applicants, educators said, who ask if their children will be safe in the U.S.

“If you look at the national news, why, goodness, would you send your child to the U.S.?” Pasquerella asked. “Students killed in California and in Florida. Who would encourage people to come here under these circumstances?”

Anti-immigrant comments are “inflammatory,” said University of Southern California’s Timothy Brunold, dean of admissions. He said he travels internationally often, speaking with prospective students and their families.

“I am endlessly questioned about this. ‘Will my son or daughter be welcomed in the United States? Will they get a visa, but will it be taken away? Will there be an opportunity to work in the U.S. Or will there be a limit?’” Brunold said.

“Yes, we are hearing that, too,” said University of Colorado-Boulder’s Natalie Koster Mikulak, associate director of international admissions.

The uncertainty and future of American immigration policy daunts some students, who worry about how and how quickly visa regulations will change. Going home for a family event — like a relative’s illness or a celebration — is sometimes skipped for fear of leaving the country.

While experts said the dip in new enrollments can be attributed to a mixture of factors, the slide in numbers coincides with the so-called travel ban that limited immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries in early 2017. When ordered, President Donald Trump said it was a national security measure.

The orders had a chilling effect on international student enthusiasm for the U.S., experts said. If a student’s visa is rescinded before graduation, they might have to start over in another country.

Educators pushed back. 

“It is vital to our economy and the national interest that we continue to attract the best students, scientists, engineers and scholars,” the Association of American Universities stated in a January 2017. “That is why we have worked closely with previous administrations, especially in the wake of 9/11, to ensure our visa system prevents entry by those who wish to harm us, while maintaining the inflow of talent that has contributed so much to our nation.” 

Nearly two years later, the U.S. limits student and exchange visas only to Syria and North Korea, said Laura Stein, visa policy analyst at the Bureau of Consular Affairs last week. Stein said applicants from those countries may apply for a waiver from the presidential proclamation. As of Oct. 31, 2018, she said, 2,072 waivers have been granted.

National security, educators said, is built on sharing American democracy and standards with international students who will carry that positive relationship with them throughout their lives.

“We see time and time again that non-U.S. students come back,” Lerner said. “They send their kids here. … It pays dividends. We need more diplomats.”

“International students studying alongside Americans are a tremendous asset to the United States,” Royce said. “We need to develop leaders in all fields who can take on our toughest challenges. We need people who can find solutions that keep us secure and make us more prosperous. We want to send a message that international education makes us stronger as a country.”

“We may have been the undisputed leader in the world,” said Brunold. “We might be starting to see some cracks in that.”

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