Remaining Open, Welcoming: Essential to America’s Security


Statement by Jill Welch, NAFSA Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy


Rebecca Morgan, 202.495.2553,
Kolbie Blume, 202.495.2528,

Washington, June 6, 2018 – NAFSA Deputy Director for Public Policy, Jill Welch, testified at the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration during a hearing entitled Student Visa Integrity: Protecting Educational Opportunity and National Security. The following is a statement by Jill Welch, Deputy Director for Public Policy of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

“Universities and colleges take threats to U.S. national security, as well as economic security and academic freedom, very seriously. As the Subcommittee further explores this issue, NAFSA encourages an approach that focuses on maintaining educational environments that draw upon educational exchange as integral to our national and economic security. Over the past half-century, U.S. foreign policy leaders have consistently acknowledged that educational exchange is one of our nation’s most valuable foreign policy tools. International students and scholars often become informal and sometimes formal ambassadors when they return home, counteracting stereotypes about the United States and enhancing respect for cultural differences. In many cases, future U.S. and foreign leaders will have studied together, creating even more direct diplomatic and business ties. In addition to our national security, the presence of international students and scholars at U.S. colleges and universities is critically important to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics agenda of the United States.

“America is in a global competition for talent. International students and scholars create jobs, drive innovation, enrich our classrooms, strengthen our national security and serve as America’s best ambassadors and allies. If students, particularly from strategic regions around the world, no longer come here, we will lose the ability for our country to build relationships with future leaders in other countries and strengthen our own national security. Congress must not be short-sighted when determining future policies for international students. To make America more secure and welcoming to international students and scholars, Congress should avoid unwelcoming rhetoric and policies; invest in science, research and language learning; and increase the numbers of green cards available for international students and scholars so we can attract and retain the most talented in the world.”

View the full written testimony here.