DC Edit | Trump visa U-turn relief for students

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Oped

Facing lawsuits from reputed universities like Harvard and MIT, Trump did a rare and swift walkback on an extremely unpopular measure

US President Donald Trump wears a mask as he visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (AFP)

The sigh of relief as the US administration rescinded a rule regarding in-person and online classes that would have required international students to leave the country may be heard worldwide.

Facing lawsuits from reputed universities like Harvard and MIT, states and global tech giants, Donald Trump did a rare and swift walkback on an extremely unpopular measure, which threatened to shoot the US education economy just to improve his personal poll prospects in brazen promotion of anti-immigrant phobia.

The deep wallets of international students about 2.02 lakh Indians study in the USA may have helped save the day for those already in the US when varsities have little choice but to conduct classes online in view of the pandemic.

The argument that with lives at stake policy-making should be more humane is unlikely to impress a president with such a cavalier attitude even to a huge number of deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic.

It may be wishful thinking to believe Mr Trump is not being cheeky when he says a merit-based work visa system is on the anvil. Studies posit that for every H-1B visa granted two new jobs are created in the US and that three jobs exist in the service of every seven students.

The Trump administration may have been convinced into this policy U-turn because $40 billion and nearly half-a-million jobs faced a threat from a strange, Trump-inspired ruling aimed at forcing universities and schools to open earlier.

In a week of sensational U-turns, Mr Trump was also seen in public with a protective facemask on.

This might buck the belief that lightning or, for that matter, enlightenment never strikes the same person twice. Bowing to fears of a rampaging virus, Mr Trump has helped depoliticise the mask issue.

Let us not believe the world is anywhere close to success in the Covid-19 fight. Social distancing, masks, hand washing and self-quarantine remain crucial weapons even as testing and treating the infected remains utmost priorities.