Immigration
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  • Education
    Higher Education Webinar: The Role of Hispanic-Serving Institutions
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    Antonio Flores, president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), leads a conversation on the role of Hispanic-Serving Institutions in higher education. FASKIANOS: Welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I’m Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted and honored to have Dr. Antonio Flores with us today to discuss the role of Hispanic Serving Institutions. Dr. Flores is president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Established in 1986, HACU represents more than five hundred colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the United States, Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Europe. During his tenure as president of HACU, the association has nearly tripled its membership and budget, expanded its programs, and improved legislation for Hispanic Serving Institutions, and increased federal and private funding for HSIs. He previously served as director of programs and services for the Michigan Higher Education Assistance Authority, and the Michigan Higher Education Student Loan Authority. And, needless to say, he’s taught at public and private institutions, conducted research and policy studies on higher education issues. And so it really is wonderful to have him with us today to talk about HACU, how HACU is committed to the role of Hispanic Serving Institutions, and to serving underrepresented populations. Obviously, we are very much looking to develop talent for the next generation of foreign policy leaders, and really look forward to this conversation. So, Antonio, thank you for being with us. It would be great if you could talk about the Hispanic Serving Institutions, their role in higher education, and your strategic vision for HACU broadly. FLORES: Thank you, Irina, for those very flattering remarks and introduction. And of course, we’re delighted to be part of the series here today and talk a little bit about what HSIs are doing and how they can do more of the great work they’ve been doing for the nation, and HACU’s role as well in promoting them. And suffice to say that Hispanic Serving Institutions have become the backbone of not only Hispanic higher education, but also the American labor force. Because there are more—there are more than 560 now HSIs across the nation, enroll the vast majority, more than 5.2 million of them, of underserved students who historically have not been adequately served in higher education, including Latinos. And it just happens that this population, the Hispanic population, is contributing more than half of all the new workers joining the American labor force today. And that proportion is likely to continue to increase in the years ahead. In addition, of course, they serve scores of African Americans, of Asian Americans, Native Americans, and all Americans. So they are really a microcosm of American diversity. And for that very reason, going forward as these populations continue to increase demographically, their representation in the labor force will only continue to develop. The latest Census Bureau report for 2010 to 2020 indicates that more than 51 percent of all the population growth in the nation is attributed to Hispanics. So there we have it. It’s just the reality of the facts. And therefore, HSIs are now the backbone of America’s labor force, because ultimately the demands of the global economy are such that we need to step up to the plate and really educate at a much higher level, and train at a much higher level those underserved populations, particular Hispanics, so that we can remain competitive in that global economy. And that includes the preparation of top-notch leaders for foreign service careers. And so if we were to summarize how we view HSIs with respect to America’s challenges today, and opportunities in the future, I would say that there are three dimensions that define HSIs vis a vis the United States of America and its future in the world. Number one is diversity. And I already alluded to some of that. But diversity is not just with respect to the fact that they have the most diverse student population on their campuses. But it’s also the diversity across types of institutions because we have community colleges, we have regional universities, and we have research-intensive, or R1 institutions. So we have within campuses tremendous diversity, and we have across campuses nationwide institutionally diversity as well. And so that’s the name of the game. And that’s the name of the game for America, is diversity. And it’s the name of the game for the world. It’s a very diverse world out there. And so the more attuned those top-notch leaders that were looking to educate in our institutions are with respect to their diversity, the more not only knowledgeable and experienced and sensitive to that diverse reality of the world and of America, the much better leaders they are going to be. And so diversity, again, is that one unavoidable element of our world and of our country. The second, I think, very important element or dimension of HSIs is the dynamism. They are very dynamic institutions that are really doing a magnificent job with fewer resources than the rest of the field. They don’t have the big pockets or big endowments. They don’t have the applications they need from the federal government they should get. And yet, they excel at educating those who come to their campuses. Just to give you an idea, Opportunity Insights is a name of an organization that does socioeconomic analysis of graduates from students from colleges across the country. And particularly they focus on how institutions educate and position in careers those who come from the lowest quintile of entering freshmen to college. And they believe that those who graduate, they graduate and see what proportion of those who came in the lowest quintile move to the top quintile in terms of earnings. And in the last report I saw, nine of the ten top institutions in that regard were Hispanic Serving Institutions. Nine of the top ten. It’s not the Ivy League institutions, for sure. It is those institutions that I mentioned that are part of our group of HSIs. And in fact, the number one is Cal State LA in that report that I saw. And so, again, because they are very dynamic, creative, innovative, and resourceful with respect to using what little they have to optimize the educational outcomes of those who come to their campuses. And not just educational outcomes, but career outcomes. Once they are in the workforce, their earnings are higher than those of others from the same lowest quintile when they enter college. So dynamism is the second major component. And I would say deliverance. Deliverance for underserved populations is another important quality that HSIs represent, because they are ultimately serving—for the most part, the majority of their students are first-generation college students, many of them from immigrant families who are unfamiliar with the educational system and with the intricacies of going through a college education, because they themselves never had that opportunity to pass down. So they are at a very distinct socioeconomic disadvantage coming from those types of families who are also low income, because to be an HSI not only does an institution have to have more than 25 percent of its enrollment being Hispanic, but also they have to show that the majority of their students are Pell Grant eligible—in other words, needy, low-income students. And the other criterion is that they have to spend on average per student less than the average of their peer institutions. So they are efficient, very cost-effective, and they serve the neediest of our society. So there you have it. Diversity, dynamism, and deliverance for the most needed in our society. That’s what HSIs are all about. And so they really are in need of much greater support from the federal government, the state governments, and from the corporate community and the philanthropic community. And our association advocates for that to be the case, with some success but not enough. We have been able to increase the appropriations for them from Congress over the years, but they are way behind other cohorts of minority-serving institutions that get much more money per student than HSIs do, despite the fact that they—for instance, they not only educate 67 percent of all the 3.8 million Hispanics in college today; they also educate three times as many African Americans as all the HBCUs combined. Let me repeat that: More than three times as many African Americans go to HSIs as they go to HBCUs, OK? And more than 42 percent of all the Asian Americans in college today attend HSIs. They also educate more than twice as many Native Americans as all the tribal colleges and universities put together. And then we have other groups of different national origins who come to our campuses. So they are extremely diverse. And so that’s, in a nutshell, what HSIs are all about. And they’ve been growing, about thirty new HSIs per year, because demographically it’s how the country’s moving. There are more Hispanic young people emerging from high school and going to college than from any other group. And conversely, the non-Hispanic White student enrollment has been declining continually year after year for the last ten years. Look at the numbers. And that’s not going to stop. In major states, like California and Texas, for example, the two largest in the nation, more than 50 percent—about 52-55 percent of the K-12 enrollment is Hispanic. If you add the other minority populations, overwhelmingly these states futures are diverse and Hispanic. And so is the country. Other states are moving in the same direction, whether it’s Florida, or Illinois, or New York, New Jersey. The main states in the nation are moving in those—in that direction. So that’s why it’s so essential for Congress, the states, corporate America, and philanthropic America to invest in these institutions much more than they have been doing, because they represent the very future of this nation. To the extent that the new generations of graduates coming out of them are equipped with the right tools to succeed as scientists, as technicians, as professionals in whatever field they choose, our country will thrive. And the opposite will happen if we don’t. It’s that simple. And so that’s what I wanted to just briefly say as an introductory commentary on HSIs. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Thank you very much for that. We’re going to go to the group now for their questions. (Gives queuing instructions.) So I’m going to first go to Manuel Montoya, who has raised his hand. Q: Thank you very much, Irina. And, Dr. Flores, it’s a real pleasure to have you on the call. I appreciate all the work that you do for HACU and for Hispanic Serving Institutions. I am with the University of New Mexico. I’m an associate professor in international management at UNM, but I also do a lot of work with my cohorts on supporting HSI—our HSI designation. We are a Hispanic Serving Institution and an R1 institution as well. All of the things you said are really important. And I had a comment and then a question. I think this question of—this idea of diversity being the name of the game is not to be underestimated. I think that the students that go through HSI-designated institutions, I think that they have the potential to reshape and recalibrate what we mean when we say we are ambassadorial in the world. And the United States needs to upgrade and change its relational dynamics, political and economic, to include diverse voices that come from the learned and lived experiences of people who traditionally come from first-generation families, first-generation students. And HSIs are equipped to do that. So my question becomes, you mentioned wanting to track some people into the foreign service exam. But what other types of experiences or opportunities do you think are best practices for students that are coming out of HSIs to participate in the larger international relations frameworks and careers that are setting the global agenda? FLORES: That’s a good question, Professor Montoya. And let me share with you briefly something that I mentioned before we started the webinar to friends at CFR. And that is that HACU has a very robust national internship program that places upwards of five hundred undergraduates, and some of our graduate students, with federal agencies, including the State Department. We signed an MOU with the late Secretary Powell, who at that time was very much committed to increasing the number of Latinos in the Foreign Service, and other underrepresented populations. And that remains in place, although not with the numbers that we would like to see. And yet, there are other agencies that also have a foreign or abroad projection, like Department of Agriculture, for example. And others that have offices across the world. And so we are very much into helping them find the right talent they need, and getting them also as interns experience those agencies, and putting them on the right track to become full-fledged employees once they graduate. So that’s one of the things that we’ve been doing. We need to do much more of that. I accept that the number is, as impressive as they may sound, are very minute when it comes to the populations that we’re talking about. And our own association has made it a priority to expand its international reach. And we have, depending on the year, anywhere from forty to fifty universities across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Spain that are affiliated with us to do precisely what you suggest, which is student mobility and experience abroad. And so—and in both directions, also that they would come to be in the U.S. And so we have the beginnings, I think, of a major push to make sure that many, many more young people who—they have a kind of an almost organic connection to international affairs, in this case Latinos, because most of them come from families who immigrated or have roots in other countries, and are really very much culturally adept to international roles. So your point is well-taken. And you’ll see a lot more activity from our end as an association in that regard. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next question from Shoshana Chatfield. Q: Yes, hello. I wanted to say thank you for such a wonderful presentation and for really exposing me to some of the issues that I wasn’t aware of previously. I am the president of the United States Naval War College. And since I’ve been here over the past two years, I have been actively trying to expand our recruiting effort to make our vacancies on our faculty available to members of the community. And yet, I’m not seeing any appreciable difference in the applicant pool. And I wondered if you could advise me how I might approach this differently to raise awareness about hiring to these war colleges who have not traditionally had a high representation of faculty who come from the same backgrounds that you described. FLORES: Thank you. Thank you for your very timely question, President Chatfield. Let me say that one of the first things that I would suggest is that you join our association as a college. Why would that be helpful to your effort? Because then you will connect with presidents and CEOs of five hundred-plus community colleges, regional university, and so forth, and school districts that are also affiliated with that, that are defined as Hispanic-serving school districts. So that even in high school you will have a presence through our association’s outreach to them, and that you also would network with peers of diverse institutions across the country who may have robust pipelines of Ph.D. graduates and others who could fit your own aspirations, in terms of getting some of those faculty on your campus, some of those administrators, and some of those as students. Because, at the end of the day, probably—you probably want to have a much more diverse student body. And that can come from precisely that opportunity to not only interact but formally establish relationships with some of those colleges to transfer, for instance, from community colleges or from high schools that we interact with on a regular basis. So that would be one suggestion. We also have in our association a very, very nimble system called ProTalento. It’s online. That is P-R-O-T-A-L-E-N-T-O, ProTalento. And that that—you can go to our website, find it. And we have on that website a very robust database of individuals who are looking for opportunities at different colleges. That are already teaching, or doing research, or both, and are looking for other opportunities. And also, we have institutions that are looking for them. And the system basically matches them. So you can go there and find a goldmine, so to speak, of talent. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. Great question. And we have a written question, a couple written questions in the chat. This one comes from Andrea Purdy, who is an associate professor of Spanish at Colorado State University. We are anticipating reaching HSI status. And in talking to my students, a comment they have made to me is that they don’t always feel welcomed all over the university. There are niches, but overall the sense of belonging is not felt. They also commented that while they are beginning to see themselves in classrooms, they don’t see themselves in the faculty. What suggestions do you have for universities to make sure that the inclusivity is felt at all levels? FLORES: Well, it’s similar to the previous question in some—in some regards, because ultimately the first thing you want to do as a college or university, it has to be job number one, is to create a climate—a campus climate of support and welcoming feelings for the students, that they feel not only appreciated but they feel really supported and welcome to the institution. And so the point made is how can we recruit or how can we diversify faculty and staff? Well, again, you go—you know, when you want to catch fish, you go fishing where the fish are. And the fish are in some of the HSIs, those that are already more developed institutions. And many of them are regional universities or R1s or R2s. And those could be a source of talent for institutions like Colorado State, that is lacking some of their representation. And of course, I want to insist that please visit ProTalento. And you may be surprised how much success you could have in getting people from that database to consider your institution. But of course, faculty and staff who look like the students are essential to create that culture, that campus climate of appreciation and welcoming, I would say. FASKIANOS: Thank you. Let’s go next to Rosa Cervantes, who has a raised hand. And please unmute yourself and tell us your affiliation. Q: Good afternoon. Thank you for taking my questions. My name is Rosa Isela Cervantes. I’m the director of El Centro de la Raza at the University of New Mexico, and also special assistant to the president on Latino Affairs. And I really interested in what you said, Mr. Flores, about the diversity of students at HSIs, and that we serve three times the amount of—if I heard correctly—of African American students at HSIs than BCUs, is that correct? Is that— FLORES: That is correct, yes. Q: OK. And I wanted to see if you could expand a little bit about that, and also maybe think through or talk to how we can do some coalition building with folks. Because I really feel like HSIs are completely underfunded, right? You’ve stated it, we’ve heard it. But yet, they’re so robust and they do so many different things for so many different students. I wonder how we might continue—and we’re a member of HACU—but I wonder how we maybe think through some conversations to really get out the word about that idea, that HSIs are that robust, that HSIs do served large populations of students. And sometimes some of the most neediest students that require more money, right, for their funding. And so I just think that’s very interesting. I think—I don’t think a whole lot of people know about it or understand that. I had a faculty member at a different institution actually question me, because I had read that somewhere. And I think we need to talk more about it. So I’m just wondering your thoughts about coalition building and what else we can do, and how other ways that HACU needs our support to make that happen. FLORES: Thank you for your excellent question, Ms. Cervantes. And let me share with you that last week I was in Washington, D.C. most of the week and met with a number of Congress individually, including your great senator, Mr. Lujan. And guess what? There was a lot of good conversation about that point. And I have also talked with a number of African American members of Congress who didn’t know that, and who actually had themselves—(background noise)—and who actually have themselves a significant number of HSIs in their districts. And they didn’t know that they had all these HSIs in their districts. And so I think the word is getting out there. And, more importantly, the appreciation for the fact that these institutions really are very diverse, and not only do they educate the vast majority of Latinos and Latinas, but they also educate a larger number, as we said, of African Americans and others than the HBCUs, for example. And they didn’t know that. And then—so I think that mindset might begin to change, because at the end of the day the funding and support should be focused on the students. And ultimately, if you help the neediest of students you have the more diverse population, but you have the fewest dollars per student coming from Congress. There has to be something wrong there with that equation. So there is an inequity that we are, as an association, trying to remedy. And we need all the help we can get from all—our own Latino organizations and HSIs, but also from others including the HBCUs. It’s not about reducing funding for them or anything like that. They can and should be getting even more. But not—but HSIs shouldn’t be treated as second-class institutions. They are not. They are the backbone, again, of America’s labor force, in terms of training that labor force to be competitive in the global economy. So they have to be treated appropriately and equitably. Basically, it’s about equity in terms of funding. And right now, things are not at all equitable, but we’re changing that gradually. And thank you for your question. Q: Gracias. FASKIANOS: So we have a written—several written questions. So Sandra Castro, who is assistant dean of the undergraduate programs at Adelphi University says: What recommendations do you have for institutions that are striving to become HSIs in preparing for this designation? What internal changes and institutional infrastructure is necessary to truly serve the Latino student body? FLORES: I will suggest three things. One is, begin to work more closely with institutions that are already HSIs and that are doing a good job being HSIs, that are recognized for having, as they say, best practices with respect to being an HSI. And learn from them. Learn how it is that they do what they do well. And begin to then—and the second point is, educate your own leadership at your institution about how they can be much more effective and receptive to the inevitable demographic change in their student population to become an HSI, and how they can make the most of it in terms of student success, and also learning the ropes of how to get grants and funding to improve services for this population. And the third thing that I would recommend very strongly is that, you know, take a very hard look at all of your outreach and marketing materials, and revise them accordingly so that you reflect that commitment to diversity, in particular to Latino inclusion, in terms of bilingual materials and outreach to families and communities. Because many times the decision about whether to go to college or where to go to college by a student is really influenced very heavily by the family, the parents particularly, because of the tremendous pressure that many of them have in starting to work to contribute to the family income, because they come from low-income families. So working with those families and making them aware of the importance of getting a degree, a college degree, and postponing some of that lower-income—some of the minimum-wage salary that they could get as a high school graduate, and working with those families is very important. Working in their language and culture is even more important for some of them. FASKIANOS: Great. I think this is a good segue to the next question from Eric Hoffman, who got an upvote. He’s the dean of the Honors College at Miami Dade College. And his question is: How can we get the Hispanic and Latinx students out of their community and expand their aspirations to colleges and universities in states and areas far from home? FLORES: Well, you know, it’s an excellent question, in the sense that historically—because these are first-generation college students for the most part, whose families have not had the opportunity to educate themselves in college. And their temptation is to stay home. Especially sometimes it’s worse for female students to move away from home. And my suggestion is that you, again, will work with those families as closely as you can to make them aware of the fact that moving away doesn’t mean—moving away physically doesn’t mean moving away from the family otherwise, that they will ultimately remain connected to the family. And now with technology it’s even easier. You know, we have Facetime. We have all kinds of other ways of interacting that were not available just some years ago. And they ultimately need to consider the best options in terms of financial aid and the quality of education they’re going to get, and a few of the studies that they want to pursue. Sometimes all of those things are not available locally, so you have to go where all of those are. And I think that once there is a process of education for the family in that regard, they tend to be much more flexible. We experience some of that with our own national internship program, because we place them primarily in the Washington area, but also in other places. And I personally get to intervene sometimes with some families in their language, in Spanish, to reassure them that the young woman that was going to be placed somewhere else in Washington, D.C. or elsewhere was going to be OK, and she was going to come back home after the ten-week experience, or fifteen-week internship. And, guess what? After they experienced that, their siblings—they were trailblazers for their siblings and for neighbors, and all that. Now we don’t have that problem, at least with our internship program. We have thousands of applicants and, unfortunately, we can only place about five hundred a year, annually. And so it does pay off to invest in working with families closely. And again, it’s a generational effect, because then younger siblings or relatives will not have that kind of issue going forward. FASKIANOS: You had mentioned that you were in D.C. last week meeting with members of Congress. And we obviously have a new secretary of education, Dr. Cardona. Have you seen a shift from the Biden administration in their approach and what they’re doing from a federal level to support the HSIs? FLORES: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there is just no question about that. The shift has been dramatic. And this administration and Congress are—have shifted gears and are actually investing more than anything else in people, investing in the economy to create more jobs, investing in education to prepare the labor force much better, investing in health to protect people from not just the pandemic but from other diseases that we experience. And just in general, the infrastructure, they just passed that bill in the House, is to improve the lives of people across cities, across states, by improving their infrastructure. It is not just about roads and bridges. It is also about water systems that are decaying and are affecting the health of people. It is about the lack of access to broadband connectivity. It is all of those things that will improve the lives of people. And so there, no question. And HSIs have improved—again, not to the extent that they should be supported. But we are in a much better situation now than we were just a couple of years ago. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take Nathan Carter’s written question, and then Mike Lenaghan, I know you wrote a comment/question in the chat, but I’d love for you just to raise it and speak it, because I’m afraid I might not get it exactly correct. So Nathan Carter from Northern Virginia Community College in the Washington D.C. metro area. I am the—NOVA’s chief diversity equity and inclusion officer. We are an emerging HSI. When we look at our enrollment data here in fall 2021, we see a clear decline in quote/unquote “new” Hispanic students, both male and female. We wish to discuss this growing issue and recognize what may be the current obstacles or community issues happening right now in the Hispanic community that will help us explain what we see and how we can reach out to the Hispanic community to help address what could be a growing problem across various states. So I think if you could comment on that, and how to, you know, have that discussion. FLORES: Well, thank you for that question. It’s something that, of course, has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Because a lot of our colleges and universities, HSIs and others, did not have the endowments or the money to immediately make—shift gears in the direction of the technology required to move from in-person to online teaching and learning, and to train faculty and staff to manage all of those new systems. And that’s on the institutional side, that there was that kind of reality of not getting all of the necessary resources to make that shift immediately and successfully. On the receiving end you have families and communities that do not always have the connectivity to broadband and the devices at home and the space at home to learn online. And so it was a one-two punch—institutional and students were hit very hard. And therefore, many of them withdrew. And apart from the fact that when it comes to the rate of infection, hospitalization and death, Latinos were worse hit than any other population, so much so that during the pandemic Latinos shrank their life expectancy by three years, compared to two years for Black and 0.68 years, so less than a year, for non-Hispanic Whites. So you do have all of those things. And ultimately, that means that the students served by these institutions come from those very families that were hardest hit in their health as well. So they couldn’t go to school. They were trying to survive. And many did not. And so there was a drop in the enrollment, and particularly at community colleges, is where the—they were the hardest hit with respect to that, just like that community that is emerging as an HSI. So we are pushing very hard for that to be remedied, not just for the pandemic, but for the long term. Because I think the hybrid models of teaching and learning should—will remain in place for the long haul. And we need to make sure that those families, those communities that have been historically underserved and underfunded get that necessary technology at home to do that type of educational experience. We also need to make sure that the institutions that are suffering the most get the most help to beef up their infrastructure. And not just in terms of technology, but also in terms of expanding classrooms and also creating labs that are very expensive to create for technology of science or engineering types of degrees, which are the most in demand. And in some states, it’s even—it’s worse than in others because a lot of students are homeless. A lot of students are homeless. And in a state like California, where we have the largest concentration of Latinos, for example, that problem has been rampant and recognized by the state as a huge priority. So what they need to do is also build affordable housing even on campuses, so that those students have a place to live in a decent, humane way. And so there are many things that come to create this perfect storm against populations like low-income Latinos, and African Americans, and others. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to ask Mike Lenaghan to ask his question live. Q: Thank you very much, Irina. And it’s a pleasure to see you, Dr. Flores. I am Mike Lenaghan from Miami Dade College, and truly cherish the empowerment we’ve enjoyed through the vehicle of HACU. It’s been my experience, basically with a great deal of labor-intensive and purposeful leadership development, to have my scholars—just me, as one faculty member—successfully transfer to over 139 colleges and universities in the United States, all of whom required financial support and almost all of whom were able to avoid loans. This is over a twenty-year period. My question is: How might I, as a faculty member, also someone who’s labor-intensive, be empowered, possibly mediated by HACU, to share basically how to set up my Hispanic students and their families and their relatives for the kind of success my scholars have enjoyed at Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Georgetown, UVA, Duke, UCal Berkeley, and so on? Which, when the right combination of chemistry and self-identification occurs, each of my Hispanic/Latinx scholars basically knows what they uniquely bring and add, as well as what they uniquely can address and engage in each school. I realize I am just a microcosm in a larger macrocosm, but I’m wondering does HACU have a role to play that might mediate some education and sharing, not just a book or a strategy, but something that could be shared, including some of what I like to call my all-stars, who have enjoyed operating in the context of HACU as a launching pad. Thank you, sir. FLORES: Thank you for your very, very important work, Professor Lenaghan. And thank you for your very caring teaching and supporting our students, your scholars. And ultimately, you have a lot to offer to the academic community as a faculty who cares about these students not only doing well but excelling and going to places that perhaps their families never thought of them being able to go. And I think it begins with learning from people like you what is it you’ve been doing so well to help those that you have helped to excel. And HACU can be a platform for you to share that. We ultimately have annual conferences and other meetings where your expertise and your success can be shared with others to adapt it to their own needs and replicate what you’ve been doing so well in other places, so that many more can go onto those very selective institutions, and others. And of course, I don’t know if we’ve been connecting—I insist on this point, on connecting with families, because many of the Latino families—and maybe in the Miami area it’s a little different because a lot of the Cuban and South American families perhaps come from a more middle-class background than in places like Texas or California. And maybe they had already some collegiate experience in their home countries, and they immigrated there, or whatever. But that helps a lot, OK? When they come with that background. But when they don’t, when they are immigrants who come without even a high school diploma from their home countries, and they don’t know the language, their highest expectation is at least to get their high school diploma and start working somewhere. And so taking them to the next level, it takes a lot of work. And it takes a lot of work in terms of making sure that they understand that if their child has the talent, and has the persistence and discipline, et cetera, et cetera, to go places, that they can be very helpful to him or her in ensuring that there is a space at home where they can study, that they do concentrate on their studies, and that they really aim for those places that you mentioned and don’t settle for second-best of going to some institution, but make that their goal: I’m going to go to X or Y Ivy League or very selective institution because I have with it takes, but it’s going to take a lot of nurturing and support. And the parents can be very helpful, even if they don’t have an education, by really making sure that their child has the space and the time at home to concentrate and study. That will go a long way. But really, let them flourish. And so HACU can be a platform in three different ways. One is, allowing individuals like yourself, who are excelling in their teaching, to share their best practices with others. Secondly, we also, of course, have to recognize that we have some programs already in HACU that are very effective, especially those that are focused on moving a critical mass into STEM degrees. And we’re going to emphasize that even more going forward. And thirdly, that we, as an association, have the ability to influence federal agencies and others—and corporations to invest in the kinds of practices that you may be successful at. And I’ll give you a couple examples. We just got a planning grant from NSF, HACU did. And we are almost done with the planning for one year, because we want to submit a multiyear, multimillion grant to NSF with an emphasis on moving as high as possible, to the PhD. in fact, Latinos all the way from community college up to the research one institutions. And we are working on that proposal to be submitted early next year. But we could, I’m sure, learn from what you’re doing. And so we could influence agencies to also invest more. We have a new program under NSF for HSIs that you can apply for a grant to expand what you’re doing with more students, more parents. And the same thing is true with respect to other agencies. I was just in Washington last week and met with the undersecretary of the Department of Commerce to discuss the technology program, where our institutions will each have a role to play. And so we have the role of advocating and influencing agencies and Congress to invest in institutions like yours, Miami Dade, and professors like you, so that you can do more of exactly what you are doing. So please feel free to send us an email at HACU. You can send it to my attention. And I’ll make sure that it finds its way to the right staff in charge of the kinds of programs that you are dealing with. We do have great staff that follows up on situations like yours. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. We will circulate after this an email with some of the resources you’ve mentioned and the email that we should be sharing, Dr. Flores. So we have another question, and it follows onto Mike’s question, from Arturo Osorio, who’s an associate professor at Rutgers University. Any advice or programs that you know to help connect the parents of the Hispanic Latino Students to the higher education experience? Many of our students are first-generation Americans and also first-generation college students. This creates a large cultural and experiential gap for parents to bridge on their understanding of what kids are going through and support them. As a result, many of the students have very stressful moments as they navigate away from the family to their college life. FLORES: Yeah. Excellent question. And my suggestion is that please send us an email. We have an office in HACU that is designated to promote pre-K-12 and higher education collaboration. The executive director of that office is Jeanette Morales. Jeanette Morales has a team, and they work with clusters or consortia of colleges, universities and K-12 schools, particularly secondary schools, to move out successfully many more of those underserved students to college and be better prepared to succeed in college. It is more substantive than just a college visitation thing or admissions officers talking with them at an event. They actually have early college interventions for high school students. So they actually earn even college credit when they are creating high school for the most advanced students. But they also have opportunity for professors from some of those universities and community college to teach as visiting teachers in those high schools, where they may not get the resources to hire faculty for advanced courses and for the courses that are required to be successful in especially STEM degrees, like advanced math, advanced science, and so forth. So that office and our association has been in place for the last seventeen years. It was that far back when we first saw that more than half of the battle to succeed in college has to be won in K-12. And it has to be won with families on your side, because first-generation college students do depend largely on families to make decision after high school. So please feel free to contact Jeanette Morales or myself in my email at our San Antonio headquarters. FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. We are at the end of our time. I just wanted to ask if you could just do really briefly what you’re doing internationally to encourage—you know, and we don’t have a lot of time. But I don’t want to leave without—you had told me in our pre-call just a little bit. So if I you could just give us a wrap-up on that, that would be fantastic. FLORES: Yeah. We think of international education not as an appendage, not as a luxury, not as an add-on proposition, but as an integral part of a college education, in this case. And we hope that the vast majority of our young people will have a chance to experience a study abroad. And of course, it’s like a big dream, because right now if you look at the numbers, only about 5 to 7 percent, max, of all the 350,000 American students going to study abroad are Latino. And the same number, roughly the same percentage, is African Americans and others. And conversely, only about maybe 3 percent of all the students coming from other countries come from Latin America—1.3 percent only from Mexico, which is right next door to us, OK? So that has to change. And it has to change because people who have an international experience ultimately expand their horizons and their vision of the world and are more effective not only professionals but citizens of the world. And we feel that it is very important for our young people to do that, not as a—as a kind of a luxury, or anything like that, but as an integral part of their development as professionals. And so we plan on being even more keen on affecting legislation that will provide more resources for our institutions and international programming, and ourselves as an association being much more engaged in getting more international institutions to affiliate with us to promote that mobility, that experience, independent of whether the government decides to invest or not. FASKIANOS: Wonderful. Thank you very much. Antonio Flores, this has been really a great discussion. And thanks to everybody for their terrific questions and comments. We really appreciate it. HACU is lucky to have you. We’re fortunate to have you leading this great association. As I mentioned, we will send out a link to this webinar, also some of the resources you mentioned, email addresses and the like. And I’m sure everybody knows it, but it’s worth repeating, the HACU website, HACU.net. You can follow them on Twitter at @HACUnews. So go there. You can also follow us at @CFR_Academic. And please go to CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for CFR’s resources on international affairs and the like. So I hope you’re all staying well. Dr. Flores, thank you again. And we look forward to your continuing involvement in this webinar series. The next invitation will be for December, and we will be sending that out under separate cover. FLORES: Thank you very much, Irina. Thank you, everyone. (END)
  • Education
    Academic Webinar: The Future of U.S.-Mexico Relations
    Play
    Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, associate professor in George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and global fellow in the Wilson Center’s Latin America Program, leads a conversation on the future of U.S.-Mexico relations.   CASA: Welcome to today’s session of the CFR Fall 2021 Academic Webinar Series. I am Maria Casa, director of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Thank you all for joining us. Today’s discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic if you would like to share it with your colleagues or classmates. As always CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera with us to discuss the future of U.S.-Mexico relations. Dr. Correa-Cabrera is associate professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University and global fellow in the Latin America Program at the Wilson Center. She also serves as nonresident scholar at the Center for the United States and Mexico in Rice University’s Baker Institute, is a fellow at Small Wars Journal-El Centro, and is co-editor of the International Studies Perspectives Journal. Previously Dr. Correa-Cabrera was principal investigator of a research grant to study organized crime and trafficking in persons in Central America and Mexico, supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. She is past president of the Association for Borderland Studies and the author of several books. Welcome, Guadalupe. CORREA-CABRERA: Thank you, Maria. CASA: Thank you very much for speaking with us today. CORREA-CABRERA: Thank you, Maria. Thank you very much to everyone, especially the Council on Foreign Relations, for the opportunity to talk to you about the relationships of my two countries, the United States and Mexico. So today, I’m going to start by explaining what is the current state of Mexico-U.S. relations, but in the context of a very important event that took place some days ago, in the context of the U.S.-Mexico Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities. The bicentennial—so-called Bicentennial Understanding. There was a concern at the beginning of the current administration in the United States that the relationships between the United States and Mexico were going to be difficult. Notwithstanding the last, the current year has been extremely productive in many areas. And with this new understanding, the Bicentennial Understanding, that it states in the Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health, and Safe Communities, the United States and Mexico’s relation has been reframed in a very important way. There is an understanding that the Mérida initiative that had been the center of the relationship between the United States and Mexico, focused on security, needed to be reframed. And then, you know, that was—that was considered that the priorities remained the same, the priorities of the two countries, with some changes that I’m going to be talking about. But the three—I mean, the high-level understanding, this high-level meeting told us what’s supposed to be—I mean, where we’re going to see in the future. So I just wanted to point out some of the points that were discussed. This framework was informed by each country’s security priorities, that I’m going to be talking about. And the focus is addressing violence, but through a response that’s driven by justice and use of intelligence against organized crime, and based on tactical cooperation in law enforcement, based on the previous mistakes that had been identified. But currently, the focus would be on public health and development as a part of the strategy of cooperation between the two countries. I’m taking some words from the—from the communique of this understanding. And, you know, with the consideration of—for a more secure and prosperous region, the Mexico-U.S. Bicentennial Framework serves to reaffirm the friendship and cooperation that exists between the two nations. You know, as you see, the language is very friendly. It’s based on an understanding that the relationship is important, cooperation is important. Apparently the two countries are in the same boat in this regard. The United States recognizes that support of militarization is not the way probably to go. And a greater focus on public health and development to address the root causes of violence in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Mexico, is probably the way to go, with an understanding to promote a more secure and prosperous region. There are four themes—I mean, this is the idea. This was—I mean, that was the conversation that’s on the table. We don’t necessarily know ourselves today how this is going to be implemented, what are the particular policies that—or, the collaboration, or the amounts of money to make this happen. But this is kind of like the idea of the future of this collaboration. However, I am going to be talking about the opportunities, and particularly the challenges, considering the priorities of the two nations that, in a way, and when we have the meetings of this type, and when we listen to the language and read the media and talk to the politicians that were present, we have a sense. But then when everybody goes home, we kind of, like, think about this better and we see opportunities, but more challenges than we initially thought. So there are four main things in the United States-Mexico relations that need to be highlighted, plus one that has been also always important but today is more important due to the pandemic. Which is the theme of public health, where an important collaboration between Mexico and the United States has been observed but at the same time poses certain challenges with regard to the border management. Title 42 is still in place and the borders are going to be opened gradually, considering, you know, the vaccination status of people. But that has had a major impact on border communities, and certain impacts on trade and development, particularly at the U.S.-Mexico border. The other four main themes of U.S. Mexico relations that I want to talk about are immigration, security, trade, and energy. I mean, I don’t want to place them in order of priority. I think that energy is going to define the future of Mexico-U.S. relations, but I’m going to mention the four in the context of the present—I mean, the present situation. So with regards to trade, the successful passage and, you know, implementation of renegotiation of NAFTA, today in the shape of USMCA, has been extremely successful. Poses some challenges, of course. And this is going to be connected with the last subject we’ll be talking about, the proposal of the Mexican government to reform the electricity sector. This is something that is going to be very, very important, and what are the priorities of the United States in the framework of build back better? But with regards to trade, apparently their relationships could not be, you know, better than today. There are some challenges, of course, that have to be with labor rights and unions in Mexico that would cause some loss of competitiveness in the manufacturing sector. And in the framework build back better, of course, this is going to benefit the United States and it’s going probably to affect the manufacturing sector of Mexico. Let’s see how it works. But with regards to trade, things are mainly, you know, stable, with exception of the future. And this is going to be very, very important. The potential passage, we don’t really know, it’s very difficult that the electricity reform in Mexico will pass. But anyway, the president—the current president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has a very important amount of—I mean, segment of the population, and a very important support from his base that might help him to achieve his goal. I see it very differently, but we’ll talk about that. So the next area that I would like to talk about is immigration. Here we have enormous challenges, enormous challenges that have been visualized with, you know, the current situations at the border that started since the beginning of this administration. During the past years, I mean, they had started to be increasing in magnitude, or at least in visibility. As I mentioned, Title 42 is maintained, and the migration protection protocol—Migrant Protection Protocols, so Stay in Mexico program, where a number of asylum seekers would have to wait for their cases to be decided in Mexico, there’s a new definition in this framework. The Supreme Court of the United States very recently made a decision with regards to the reinstatement of the Migrant Protection Protocols. In the beginning the Department of Homeland Security, you know, made the declaration that they would—they would continue with that, but very recently they intention is not to continue with the Migrant Protection Protocols. In the end, and this is why this is very important in the very current conversation, in the end the continuation of this—of this program that has been highly criticized. Then it’s also—it has put the human rights of undocumented migrants and asylum seekers at risk. That might—this will not work if Mexico—if the government of Mexico does not accept it. We have to see what is going to be the result. But we have a definition in this regard. The role of Mexico is key in the management of the U.S.-Mexico border, in the management of what some call migrant crisis, and then a crisis at the border. We observed that crisis very recently with a number of Haitian citizens that all left their country, went to South America, and from South America—from countries such as Ecuador, Brazil, Chile—traveled north through different countries, finding different challenges and dangers, and arrived to one point of the U.S.-Mexico border, with the help of a number of actors, such as migrant smugglers and corrupt authorities, but with the aim of making—I mean, escaping a terrible life and making a better life in the United States. We have a caravan that’s now in direction to Mexico City. They were going go—they will put their demands on the table, but their intent is to continue going to the United States. There is a very big definition with regards to the migrant crisis, or what some call the migrant crisis, and the immigration issues that the government of the United States has recognized very accurately, and the Mexican government too, that there need to be collaboration to address the root causes of the situation that has to do with the development of the countries of Central America, of South America. And, you know, to achieve stability in South America, probably not through militarization. Secretary Blinken in a very surprising statement has led us to believe that today the United States is also reframing its aid to Latin America, to Central America and the Caribbean. And the focus is not going to be in aid in military equipment or in the militarization of the region. This is very important. And this brings me to talk about the third important—the third theme in the U.S.-Mexico relations. Mexico’s security—the relationship of Mexico and the United States in the past few years has been focused on this connection between security and immigration. That’s in the end centered on a specific attention of border enforcement, of border security cooperation. The situation in Mexico has deteriorated in the past few years, and the situation has not improved in an important way. Mexico’s homicides remained at high levels, despite the pandemic. During the pandemic the decrease was very small, but today and we expect that this year the homicide rate continues growing in a trend that does not seem to be going down. The approach of the Mexican government since the transition period was—I mean, I can be summarized in the phrase talks not bullets. Which means, like, a completely—I mean, a complete shift of the declaration of Mexico’s war on drugs to some other, like, approaches that will focus as well to solve the root causes of violence insecurity in Mexico, mainly development frameworks. However, the prior militarization of criminal groups in different parts of the country, and the events—the shootings and the diversification of criminal activities by armed groups in the country—has also caused a very complicated situation. The count of homicides in Mexico shows that killings remain essentially unchanged, more than 36,000 homicides in the year 2020. As I mentioned before, this year we expect an important increase. I don’t know what will be the magnitude, but we have observed since the beginning of the year very unfortunate events. For example, at the U.S.-Mexico border, in the city of Reynosa, the massacre of migrants, and also assassinations and disappearances in a very key highway of Mexico from Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey. We still remember the Culiacanazo in the year 2019, which was a very complicated year. And today the situation in states like Michoacán, Guerrero, and Sinaloa, the massacres that be found, and people who disappear—or, that remain disappeared, is a very big concern, both to Mexico and the United States. There is not really an understanding of how this collaboration with regards to security will be framed. However, there was a very big advancement in the Bicentennial Understanding initial talks that the Mérida Initiative, at least on paper, supposed to be ending. But there’s going to be a focus on dismantling transnational criminal organizations, probably in a different way and not with a focus on the military sector or on armed forces. At least, this is what we have on the paper. Mexico has been very straightforward with regards—and very critical with regards to the role of the DEA. And that has caused several tensions in this relationship. We also have the issue of security and the—I mean, the priorities of the United States with regards to build back better proposal or reform. And then we have, as I said, the reform of the electric sector in the Mexico state, who want to recover the control of the management of electricity, of the electricity market, and the capacity of the state to manage the lithium. So Mexico has—and the Mexican government has three main projects: the construction of the refinery in—the Dos Bocas in Tabasco, the Santa Lucia airport, and the Maya Train. There is a tension between Mexico and the United States with regards to priorities. Mexico has a priority to continue with the support of oil and gas. This is—this is reflected in the construction of the refinery. And here, we’re probably going to see the main point of tension. Because of build back better and the commitment with build back better, and also focus on U.S. internal markets where Mexico has been benefitting from the growth of its manufacturing sector. We don’t really know how this is going to be playing out, but at least, you know, on paper things are going to be good. But definitely the priorities with regards to energy are very different, and the focus of the U.S.-Mexico government on the lessening of climate change. And this focus is going to be very different—very difficult. The United States is committed to meet its climate goals, create millions of jobs inside the United States. And that has really changed their relationship. So we can talk more about these. Thank you for listening to this. And as I said, we’ll probably be talking a lot about energy and the inequalities that public health and vaccination rates, that will also cause tensions. And immigration is another point that we need to talk about in greater depth. Thank you. CASA: Thank you, Guadalupe, for that introduction. There certainly is a lot to talk about. Now let’s open this up to questions from our participants. (Gives queuing instructions.) Let’s see. We will start with a written question from Paul Haber, who’s a professor at University of Montana. He asks: Can you please provide some detail regarding the changes in labor required in Mexico by the USMCA? And what has happened to date? And do you expect a real deepening of the reforms between now and the end of the AMLO administration? CORREA-CABRERA: This is a very important question. With regard to the USMCA, mainly the main point that might cause tensions have to do—has to do with labor unions, particularly in the maquiladora sector, in manufacturing sector. The United States has been very clear with regards to that requirement, but that would, at the same time, lower the competitiveness of Mexico’s manufacturing sector. As I said, there have been, I mean, in the past couple of years an attempt to create independent labor unions in the maquiladora sector, but there are still extreme tensions. And there have not been a real advance in this—in this sense. But at the same time, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with his theme of primero los pobres, the poor first, and a support of Mexican labor, an increase—a very important increase since the beginning of his administration of wages, he is supposedly committed to help Mexican workers and to—and he has been focused as well on supporting not only the labor unions or the labor sector, but with his social programs that have been, I mean, advertised a great extent. Such as Jóvenes Construyendo el Futuro, the Youth Constructing Future, which is a very important, for him, but also very criticized program. And the support of mothers without—I mean, single mothers. And, I mean Youth Constructing Future for those who don’t have jobs. So on the one hand Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also in order to continue building his base of support or maintaining his base of support, focused—has focused on these programs, these social programs, that are not necessarily just focused on labor, as the way that the United States wants this to be seen in order to also rebuild the economy by changing the focus to internal development. I don’t see in that regard if what—if your interest comes from the United States, what has happened with the union is—with the labor unions and their capacity to really, I mean, grow in the Mexican manufacturing sector—I don’t see—I don’t see a lot of advancement in that area. And definitely in this regard, there are very different priorities in Mexico versus the United States. But Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been able to convince a number of his supporters, a number of Mexican workers, because he has increased in a very important way Mexican wages. And he is probably going to be able to achieve more increases when the elections—the presidential elections approach. But definitely we don’t see very definite changes with regards to this area as the USMCA has been posed. CASA: Next we have a raised hand from Sherice Nelson, assistant professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge. Sherice. Q: Good afternoon. Thank you so much for your talk. And I appreciate you leaving time for us to ask questions. As a professor, how do—the biggest challenge often is to get students to back away from some of the stereotypical information they get about U.S.-Mexico and the relationship, and the centering of that—of that relationship on immigration, when there’s far—as you mentioned—there are far other issues that define our relationship. Where are places that we can lead students to, to get better information that is not as stereotypical about the relationship, that will pique their interest? Thanks so much. CORREA-CABRERA: That’s a very important question. Thank you for asking. And absolutely, there is a way to present the issue on immigration, to place it in a political perspective—either from the right side or the left. The problem with immigration and the quality development and the access for jobs—I mean, it has been studied in depth by Mexican academics, United States academics. Issues have more to do with development and with the jobs that are offered in the United States, the pull and push factors of undocumented immigration, for example. And we have very different areas to be thinking about migration or immigration. And the focus recently has been at the border, has been with regards to asylum seekers, has been politicized in the United States, while many other areas have been, to some extent, ignored. There are—for educators, there are a number of analyses. One particular area that’s important to know, it’s United States—I mean, immigrants—how immigrants in the United States, coming from different countries, have been able to develop, have been able to make this country great. That’s one area that we have to focus on. And there is a lot of information in that regard. Another, I mean, issue that it’s important to know are the pull and push factors of undocumented immigration. And one important factor that usually we’re not focused on are the jobs that exist in the United States, and the perspective from—I mean, the undocumented immigration from the perspective of employers. And that is connected to this analysis of the role of immigrants in the United States. Where are they coming from? What are they doing? How they came here, and not just of those who want to come. Another issue that has been widely covered is the one that has to do with migration. Migration flows that start in countries such as Chile, that dangerous journey where that media has been focused on, without analyzing this as a whole, without analyzing this understand that there are jobs in the United States, there is a comprehensive immigration reform that’s on the table, and that that comprehensive immigration reform will definitely help to solve the problems of a system that needs the, I mean, immigrants to continue working, but it’s creating all sorts of problem. The disfunctions of U.S. immigration system have been identified. There is a proposal that’s bipartisan to solve these issues with temporary visas, pathway towards citizenship for those that are already here, that already have jobs, that already contribute to this economy. But unfortunately, immigration is definitely, as you correctly mention, a subject that has been utilized, that has been polarized, because it touches very important sentiments of the electorate. And we don’t understand it. Definitely the immigration system in the United States needs to change. And there are—there is a very important amount of articles, of studies that analyze not just those who want to come or the so-called migrant crisis at the border, but how the market in the United States works, the labor markets, what undocumented migrants do in the United States, how to solve these issues with these bipartisan efforts that have been put together in documents, such as the Comprehensive Immigration Reform, and also those that want to work. And many of these problems would probably be solved through the mechanisms that think tanks, and analysts, and academics have done. Important work by think tanks like the Migration—MPI, the Migration Policy Institute, or the—I mean, other initiatives in Mexico. There have been a lot of—there’s a lot of information about the possible policies to solve these issues. It’s important to consider that information is there, that the work is done, but the problem is the coverage. And definitely our students need to go to understand the suggested—the suggested solutions, creating legal pathways to migration, to temporary work in the United States, is probably the way to go. But unfortunately, we got into these politicized moments, and these electoral moments, and the discourse gets politicized. But there is a lot there, a lot of analysis, a lot of proposals that you can find. Amazing work, both in the United States, in Mexico, and in many other countries of the Americas, because right now the issue of undocumented immigration, irregular immigration does not only have to do with Mexico and the United States. Immigrants have to pass through Mexico in order to get to where they want to go in order to go where the works are located. But we know and we have seen that a number of people, for example, that what was called the Haitian crisis at the border, like, the journey was done from countries as far as Chile, and so many countries have to deal with that. For example, the situation in Venezuela—many migrants that have been—I mean, finding jobs and a home in Colombia temporarily are also going—also moving up and are going to the border. So there’s a lot there, and our students, you know, can find a lot of information. It’s just to get out of the media discourses that are presented and that do not allow us to see the reality. But there is a lot out there that we can access, particularly for our students. CASA: Our next question is a written question and comes from Pedro Izquierdo, a graduate student at George Mason University. He asks, what improvements and flaws do you see in the bicentennial framework regarding arms trafficking, unlike the Mérida Initiative? CORREA-CABRERA: Well, it’s—the Bicentennial Understanding is not—at this point it’s just a number of good wishes and the recognition of certain problems. Arms trafficking has been recognized in this Bicentennial Understanding. As of today, we don’t really know what the United States is going to be able to do with regards to arms trafficking, and there is a very important and complicated situation here because in the United States it’s not by decree, it’s not by—I mean, the arms possession and the way that United States citizens understand their rights with regards to bearing arms. It’s a constitutional right; therefore—and there’s a lot of—you know, there’s a very, very big business that will not end so easily. Therefore, the two countries might, you know, might agree on—I mean verifying or collaborating to end or to lessen the issue of arms smuggling. However, this is going to be very difficult unless something important happens in the United States with regards to the legislation to place some limits on the bearing of arms. This is very important. As of today, Pedro, there is not a concrete plan of how the two countries are going to collaborate in this regard. As we know, the minister of foreign affairs—I mean the Mexican government through the minister of foreign affairs, I mean, has a lawsuit against United States arms manufacturers with regards to the arms that come to Mexico and end up in the hands of drug traffickers. There is nothing else that it’s current today where we will know what the two countries are going to be doing. And this is the same with many of the good wishes, many of the areas of the collaboration, the end of the Mérida Initiative and the beginning of this understanding. We really don’t know what specific programs are going to be implemented and how these programs are going to be implemented, how much money is going to be directed to these programs at this time. We just have an understanding of how the priorities can get together to improve and to reframe, to some extent, the collaboration in terms of security and development. CASA: Next we are going to a raised hand; we have Terron Adlam, an undergraduate student at Delaware State University. Please go ahead, Terron. Q: Can you hear me now? CASA: Yes. Q: Hi. Yes. So I’m thinking about more the energy sector of this talk. So in Mexico I know there’s a lot of geothermal activity, so isn’t there a more effective way of, like—because global warming is increasing more and more as time goes on, like, the flooding, the overheating of the ozone, stuff like—couldn’t geothermal usage be more effective in Mexico and solar too, versus the oil refineries? CORREA-CABRERA: This is a very important question. The understanding of climate change in the United States is very different from Mexico. In the developed world, the concern about the environment has been focused—I mean, this has now been the center of the discussion and the center of the development programs and projects. In the developing nations, there are more immediate needs to be covered. With regards specifically to Mexico, there is not—climate change is not in the center of the discourse and the priorities of the Mexican government. Mexico has oil and gas and the current Mexican president—I mean, notwithstanding the analysis of other actors. What the Mexican government has had as a priority since the beginning of the administration has more to do with the development from the state, more centralization of the state, a greater role of the state in the sector of oil and gas. The climate change priority comes from the United States. Today, you know, the diplomatic efforts are going to be done to make Mexico to turn into the renewable sector, but at this point, it is not the priority of the Mexican government, neither the priority of a majority of the Mexican people, because in the developing world, climate change is important but it’s more important sometimes in certain parts of Mexico, such as Guerrero, Michoacán, and Tamaulipas, and it’s particularly the poorest regions of Mexico—Oaxaca or Chiapas—where there are several problems and, you know, immediate needs of people are not covered. And I’m talking about food. I’m talking about security very particularly. These pictures of children with arms in Guerrero and Michoacán tell us what the emergency situation is for a number of people, and the Mexican president has been able to create a discourse around these needs, around the needs for poor people, around the needs of those who can listen to that better, and he has a priority today—I mean, he sent a proposal to achieve an electric reform; well, the state is going to have more involvement and also a focus on electricity with the technologies that the Mexican state has been managed, which is not connected to solar or wind or the mindset that the United States has had in the past few years. So the priorities are very different and the studies are not directed there. The Department of Energy of the United States, through one of the laboratories of renewable energies, conducted a—I mean conducted a study and released the results of this report talking about the—according to the report—the negative effects in terms of emissions of carbon by Mexico and the increase in the cost of producing electricity. The Mexican government—the president alleged that that study was not based in reality. And you can see, then, what Mexico wants. And, you know, currently, Mexico has actively participated in the COP26 and it’s been involved in the conversation, but definitely we don’t know how much money or how this—(inaudible)—is going to be made. This is a very important question because I wasn’t able to go in depth with this. This is probably going to be the main point of tensions between the two countries in the future—definitely for Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Andrés Manuel López Obrador was a very big critic of the recent energy reform of 2013, 2014, the energy reform that allowed private capital to get into the oil sector. He was a pretty big critic. There have been a number of events that link corrupt Mexican governments with the concessions in the oil sector, oil and gas sector, so this is probably going to be—continue to be discussed. And if the president has the capacity of passing the reform—that I see it very difficult because of the numbers that he needs—the situation is going to become more tense, because his vision is nationalistic and it’s not—and nationalism—Mexican nationalism of today is not looking at climate change as its main priority. And you can see the supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador are really not discussing climate change. Mexican elites are discussing climate change and, of course, the opposition against Andrés Manuel López Obrador against the government of the Fourth Transformation, but they have an important majority—they don’t have a majority, sorry, the opposition. The important majority is within the government of the Fourth Transformation, and their support for electric reform is important. I don’t know how this is going to play out in the end, but in the United States and in Mexico, climate change is perceived in a very different way. That has to be understood very clearly because we don’t see the media, we don’t see how in the schools and how in Mexico overall the issue is well-ingrained into the society, because, of course, the society, the Mexican society, particularly the most vulnerable ones in the country, the very important number of poor people in the country has other priorities that have to do with food insecurity—have to do with food insecurity. CASA: Thank you. Our next question is a written question; it’s from Yuri Mantilla, professor of law at Liberty University, and he writes, can you please analyze the influence of political ideologies in Mexico and the U.S. that are shaping both international relations between the two countries and perceptions of the Mexican and American people regarding the current political contexts under the Biden administration in the U.S. and the López Obrador leadership in Mexico? CORREA-CABRERA: That’s an amazing question, but that is a very difficult question to answer very quickly. OK, let me try to do it. It’s a very big challenge. This is a very challenging question. As I mentioned with regards to climate change, the ideologies in Mexico and the United States, what is right and what is left in the two countries is quite—it’s, to some extent, different in the United States, the left and right. And today, because we have a president that ran on a left-wing platform and he was recognized as a left-wing president and also a very big critic of so-called neoliberal reforms and the neoliberal system that were represented by the previous administrations and that by the administrations that achieved democratization in Mexico. I’m talking about the National Action Party and all the parties that supported those reforms, the democratization in the country. And because of that, today, the ideology has transformed, to some extent; it’s not about—I mean, support for the Washington consensus as it was in the previous decades versus—which was represented in the government—versus another project that direct—the relationship more with the people. Now that mindset, that discourse, sometimes propagandistic in certain ways, is in the government. So the government presents itself as a left-wing government. Nationalism and a conception of first the poor—the poor first, very big criticism, in discourse only, about neoliberalism, without, you know, a real perspective what neoliberalism is because of the support that the current Mexican government has provided to USMCA, which is one of the foundation parts of what is perceived as neoliberalism, which is mainly liberalism in—not in the perspective of the United States overall—free markets, the importance of free markets in the economy. It’s a very challenging question because in the United States and Mexico there are important concepts that mean different things for people. Liberalism or neoliberalism for Mexicans mean support of markets and a support of the right, while in the United States, when we talk about liberalism, we think about progressive thinking; we think about equality but in a different way. In Mexico the center is equality in the economic regard, and the president today, the government, you know, is governing with the flag of equality, is governing with the flag of the left. And the so-called left is with the Mexican—or allegedly voted for the current Mexican president, but now some of them are debating themselves in different areas. So it’s not as easy to place the right and the left as it is more in the United States; even in the United States there are many issues with regards to position yourself in right and left. We have the progressive part of the electorate in the United States versus a more moderate left, and, as you all know, the Republican Party or the conservative segment of the U.S. population that’s more connected with Republican candidates, it’s kind of like a very different conception in Mexico. The right wing in Mexico in many ways support, for example, the Democratic Party in the United States. What is conceived as the opposition to Andrés Manuel López Obrador even are very critical of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s relationship with feminism or the feminist movement. Andrés Manuel López Obrador is not supporting the feminist movement because Andrés Manuel López Obrador alleges the feminist movement has been supported by other countries and the opposition. So for the alleged left that is represented by the government, feminism is not a part of their agenda, while in the United States the LGBTQIA movement, the feminist movement, support for climate change, those important values are part of the progressive movement of the left. I mean, in Mexico, and I explain this is why this is very, very important and a very challenging question to answer—I mean, just very quickly—is that, for example, climate change is not in the agenda and climate change is in the—it has been taken by the opposition to the Mexican government. Many representatives of the opposition are criticizing the current Mexican government but not focusing on not going and continuing with the desire of constructing the Dos Bocas refinery and going with oil and gas and focusing on electricity as in the previous times of the PRI. So a number of the Mexican elite that is in opposition—I mean that’s considered the opposition are supporting climate change. Why—not supporting climate change but are supporting, like, you know, the development of renewable energies and have as an objective climate change but mainly to criticize what the Mexican government is doing. So in that regard, we see a very big polarization between the ones that supported previous administrations versus this current government that connects with the left, while in the United States we see what is the ideological spectrum. A number of those who represent, as I said, the opposition are connected with the current administration objectives. For example, President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa presents very frequently his photographs with members of the Democratic Party, the current president, Joe Biden, and he’s very critical of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, so there’s a confusion that we can have based on our own ideologies that’s not very easy to understand in very quick explanation. But I hope that I was, to some extent, clear in this regard. CASA: Next we’re going to a raised hand. Ellen Chesler, who’s senior fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. Ellen? Q: I actually had put my question in the chat, I thought, but I’ll ask it. Thank you so much for this interesting overview. I wanted to—I’m a historian by training and was going to ask you to historically frame some of your introductory remarks in a little bit more depth. First, of great interest to me, your comments about the importance of public health, specifically reproductive health policy. Have United States policies and support of Mexico in the last, you know, twenty-five years or so, in your view, been positive for the country, and what are the challenges that remain? And in a way linked to that, from your introductory comments, a question about labor: You mentioned, of course, that NAFTA, in your view, was successful, certainly from Mexico’s standpoint, but has remaining challenges, largely relating to labor organization and the raising of wages in Mexico to equalize the situation between the two countries. Can you comment on what prospects there are for that happening today in Mexico? CORREA-CABRERA: Very interesting questions. With regards to reproductive health, this also has to do with the ideology. The left in Mexico, which is now represented, in a way, by the current Mexican government, the current Mexican government has adamantly—since Andrés Manuel López Obrador was head of the government of Mexico City there have been, you know, an advancement with regards to reproductive rights, reproductive health, and that is not under question of the current administration, which is very interesting because in the United States the—I mean, there’s a different type of tension. And in other countries of the hemisphere too, we can see—you know, because we’re Catholic countries we can see that area as very complex and a lot of opposition with regards to that. In Mexico, there needs to be an opposition because of the mentality, because of the culture, but there has been an advancement in the courts, and recently there was a decision in one state of Mexico that decriminalized—and it’s very interesting how the Mexican government has been able to build a different discourse that has allowed the current government to advance in that direction. Decriminalization of abortion is a way that this has advanced. So I believe that possibly—I dare to say that possibly in the Americas, Mexico is one of the most progressive governments with regards to this subject, reproductive health and reproductive rights. It is very interesting—there must be a number of studies coming from this decision of the courts of one state of Mexico that’s going to be defining the future of reproductive rights in the country. With regards to the second question about NAFTA, labor rights, there is an understanding in the United States that NAFTA has been good, particularly for Mexico. In the technocracy sector, particularly those that, you know, contributed to renegotiate NAFTA—I mean, the Mexican elites recognize the gains of Mexico in the framework of NAFTA, particularly if we focus on the manufacturing sector. The jobs that we’re creating in maquiladoras, the jobs that were created due to NAFTA, were not enough to achieve or to allow Mexico to grow at rates that were acceptable. During the time of NAFTA, Mexico has grown at the same—almost at the same level of demographic rates of population rates. So overall, a number of jobs were lost in the beginning, the first years of NAFTA. Many of these people needed to move to the United States. So the effects of NAFTA in Mexico have been very extremely, extremely unequal. But what you will read probably in the reports that have been produced by Mexican academics, Mexican analysts and think tanks and in the think tanks of the United States is that NAFTA has been overall very good for Mexico. It has not been bad for Mexico. It has allowed the country to have access to a number of products but, at the same time, has affected some other sectors that could be considered of national security. And I’m thinking about the production of grain in the agricultural sector in particular. But with regards to labor rights—and this is why the question is very important, and I’m not sure that I answered it correctly. The United States has different priorities and has had different priorities that were manifested in the growth of dissatisfaction among an important segment of the U.S. population that has not been able to—I mean, become part of the development in the United States. That gave place to the Make America Great Again movement where the intention or the importance that a number of people in the United States, both in the left or in the right—the idea of a Green New Deal that it’s right now in the form of the Build Back Better framework has this idea in mind, to generate jobs inside the United States, because globalization or very aggressive globalization after the end of the Cold War really put a number of people in the United States in a complicated situation because the jobs were performed outside the borders of the United States. So today, this is why it is important to understand what USMCA is about with regards to labor. There is an important pressure from the United States, in particular, to Mexico to increase or—the conditions of the workers in the manufacturing sector overall because there is an important focus on wages. But if wages are—increase more than what the president already increased, you know, into this framework and labor unions make more complicated the entrance of foreign capital and the foreign capital goes back to the United States, will Mexico lose its competitiveness? And the losses will be for Mexico. So there is a tension there and definitely this tension has not been solved. The wages in Mexico have been low but that has to do with the labor supply and with the conditions of labor markets overall. And if there is a force to create the labor unions, this is probably not going to be in the—I mean it’s not going to benefit Mexican workers because the businesses are probably not going to generate those jobs and will probably relocate. That’s a conversation that has been going on and we have not solved. And we have not seen an improvement overall in the conditions or the wages of workers, more than the one that Andrés Manuel López Obrador by decree—has been given to the workers by increasing in double, particularly at the border wages in the manufacturing sector. But in the framework of USMCA, we haven’t yet seen the results and we have not yet seen also the pressure if Mexico has not because the unions have not been created and there are many tensions in that sector. There was an attempt to start with the first labor union in the maquiladora sector by—I mean today a person who is right now in Congress, Susana Prieto Terrazas—she ended up in jail in the state of Tamaulipas, so this is a very complicated subject that we haven’t been able to solve. CASA: I’m afraid we have to close now. We’re not able to get to all the questions, but we will give you the contacts for the professor and you can reach out to her directly, if you would like to continue the conversation. Guadalupe, thank you very much for being with us today, and to all of you for your great questions and comments. You can follow Guadalupe on Twitter @GCorreaCabrera. Our next Academic Webinar will take place on Wednesday, November 17, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Jason Bordoff, founding director of the Center of Global Energy Policy and professor of professional practice in international and public affairs at Columbia University, will lead a conversation on energy policy and efforts to combat climate change. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for new research and analysis on global issues. Thank you again for joining us today. We look forward to tuning in on November 17. (END)
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    Adam Julian, director of international student and scholar services at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and 2021 chair of the international student and scholar regulatory practice committee at NAFSA, discusses visa challenges for foreign students and international student enrollment with the return to in-person learning this fall.    IRINA FASKIANOS: Good afternoon and welcome to CFR’s Higher Education Webinar. I'm Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at the Council on Foreign Relations. Today's discussion is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We're delighted to have Adam Julian with us to talk about visa challenges for foreign students and fall international student enrollment. We've shared his bio with you, but I'll just give you a few highlights. Mr. Julian is the director of international student and scholar services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the 2021 to 2022 chair of the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. From 2015 to 2020, he was the director of international student and scholar services and outreach at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Adam, thanks very much for being with us today. Obviously, we are coming off this pandemic. I thought we could start by looking at the primary visa challenges foreign students are facing now and what this means for international student enrollment, as schools return to in-person learning this fall. ADAM JULIAN: Yeah, thanks so much for having me, Irina. And I appreciate the invitation and all the work that the Council on Foreign Relations does in this sphere. And it's an honor to be here today. So I wanted to start today with just discussing a few points. And a lot of this I know is information that will not be new to anyone, but hopefully it will spur some good conversation and some good dialogue amongst the group. And so today, I'll touch largely on some visa challenges for foreign students who want to study in the U.S., not necessarily only in the moment, sort of in the COVID sense, but also just in general some of the challenges for foreign students. Also, I want to touch a little bit about my experience, as the chair of the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee with NAFSA, and how liaising with federal agencies and our partner agencies, how that's really changed, in particular under the Biden administration, in the last couple of years. And then finally I want to talk a little bit about some international enrollment challenges and tensions for the fall semester, really things in the moment. And so, what I want to say about visa challenges for foreign students, and really, of all of the English-speaking destination countries for higher education, so think the UK, think Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere, the U.S. visa, I would argue, is more expensive and difficult to obtain and comes with fewer benefits in terms of post-graduation work opportunities, in terms of paths to citizenship or permanent residency, than any of its competitors. But despite this, I think the U.S. is still largely seen as one of the best systems of higher education in the world, and U.S. education is still highly sought after by international students. So, when I say it's challenging and difficult for students to obtain a visa, when you think about it just in terms of cost alone, right, if you take into consideration the SEVIS fee, which is the immigration database the Department of Homeland Security and others use, the application fee for the visa itself. That alone is $510. And that's not to mention the cost of travel to a different city. Most of the time, U.S. consulates, depending on the country, as you all know, are either in the capital city or regional city, an applicant may have to provide or may have to travel and stay overnight, take time away from work, all these different things just simply for the opportunity to apply for an interview. This gets especially complicated in other geopolitical complications, think of the case of an Iranian student who has no U.S. Embassy in their home country to apply to and has to go to a third-party country, typically Yerevan or Ankara third-party consulate and it adds an additional cost. So, there's that piece, which is the cost of the visa itself, within even simply to receive an invitation letter or what's known as a Form I-20, from an institution of higher education or any type of institution authorized to issue those in the United States, students have to provide proof of financial solvency for twelve calendar months, just to be eligible to receive this. So, in addition to the cost of the actual application process and applying itself, this system of having to establish twelve months or greater of financial solvency, really, I would argue, creates some real inequity in who is able to access higher education in the U.S., and it's largely only available to the wealthy, since mobility to the U.S., is really, for the most part, only accessible to those who happen to have the means. So, once you've applied for the visa, and you show up to the embassy, you've gone through all these steps, then the way the U.S. immigration law and regulations are structured, is the burden of proof to overcome this idea of immigrant intent, or the idea that you the applicant, are intending to immigrate to the United States and the consular officers are trained to make that assumption, the burden of overcoming that is on the applicant. And most of the times, those of you who I'm sure have been to many U.S. embassies abroad, they're perhaps not the most welcoming and friendly places. Oftentimes, these interviews take place under very stressful conditions, they must be in person in a language that is not an applicant's native language, the majority of the time. And so, if the goal is for the applicant to overcome nonimmigrant intent, to prove to the consular officer that they do plan to return to their home country, they have to establish what's known as home country ties. If you're a 17-year-old or 18-year-old student who's going to study in the United States and is applying for a visa, how do you own property? How do you articulate what your plan for the future is, when you may not even know what you're going to study in the U.S.? Another, I think, aspect of this that makes it very difficult, particularly on the visa acquisition side, it’s really just, frankly speaking, it's more difficult to get a visa from “sample” state university than from Harvard, or an Ivy or a university that has international name recognition, right? So having to overcome that bias that may be there from a consular officer is also a significant challenge. So, in summary, for the visa acquisition process, and some of the challenges in general, it really is, it's the most arduous process for any, in my opinion, for any student visa, with the least beneficial results—no path to citizenship, really strict regulations, really strict vetting, very limited work opportunities for students in the U.S. So I want to turn now to my role at NAFSA and the International Student and Scholar Regulatory Practice Committee and how things have been different under the Biden administration. And as Irina mentioned, I've been a member of ISSRP in some capacity since 2016. I've been chairing the group since 2020. And the difference between the last six months versus the previous five years is truly night and day, I sort of like to describe it as this administration is really less deliberately obstinate, or we've gone back to having a partner and not an adversary. Life is more predictable, more steady for people who have jobs such as mine working with international students and scholars and doing a lot of regulatory work. And I'll give you a few examples just of how that's changed in the first couple of months of this administration. A lot of people on the call may know that the Department of Homeland Security issued some temporary relief or some extra guidance or exceptions for international students during the COVID pandemic. And that has been a process that's been continuing to be updated and extended, sort of piecemeal and it's been a very much a piece of concern for administrators and in higher education for the students and scholars that impact it, but within several months, the new administration issued guidance all the way through the entire academic year. And I think a lot of us really view that as a statement of solidarity and support that we're in this together and we're not going to continue to create a situation that's in flux and unstable and unreliable and subject to change rapidly. The administration also did away with the Trump administration's plan to create an OPT Compliance Enforcement Unit. Under ICE—this was one of the last few months of the Trump administration—there was an announcement that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE were going to create an OPT, Optional Practical Training, form of work authorization for international students, they were going to create an enforcement unit. That was cancelled within the first several weeks of the administration. Other things, the idea of making some significant changes that are less student friendly to OPT, Optional Practical Training, to duration of status, or the length of which a student or scholar can remain in the U.S., we're always on the regulatory horizon, or the agenda, of the past administration. And those things are no longer on the chopping block, so to speak. And so really, it's been a different sense of having a partner, having an adversary in our direct liaison work, we just completed our annual conference at NAFSA. And my group is responsible for facilitating the sessions where we invite government representatives to come and discuss trends and topics and questions around international students and scholars and regulations. The past four years, just frankly speaking, organizing these events were very challenging because there was a fear among our agency partners, I think, what they may say, or what they may be not allowed to say, don't want to be seen as saying something on the record. This was a fundamentally different experience, this year, more collegial, more positive in nature. For the first time in many, many years, we were able to have some liaison with Citizenship and Immigration Services. And just in general, this has really helped the, I would say, perception, and overall sense of optimism among international educators and international students and scholars who are looking to come and study in the U.S. So, finally, where are things right now, with international enrollment? What are the tensions? I think anybody's guess is as good as mine. I think right now, the biggest challenge that a lot of us are dealing with is simply the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consular operations, it's very, very difficult, if not impossible, to get an appointment, to get a visa. Many posts simply aren't operating. That's often case-by-case, country-by-country, post-by-post specific depending on the public health situation. Those that are operating are experiencing significant backlogs. Speaking for a little bit about the experiences of students at UMBC, we had a lot of students who had originally intended to arrive in August of 2020, but because of the pandemic, had deferred until January, and had deferred again until August. And so that's created a significant backlog. And the U.S. Department of State has very graciously, I think, announced their intention to really prioritize student and scholar mobility. But, we can only do so much with the resources that we have. I think other challenges that we're facing, aside from just lack of visa availability or just navigating travel restrictions, at the top, I mentioned the case of an Iranian student who may have to travel to Armenia or to Azerbaijan to apply for a U.S. student visa, how does that student or scholar navigate the travel restrictions that are in place because of COVID? Whether or not they're at the national level, whether or not they're airline specific, based at the specific console, it's a lot to keep track of and to navigate and very difficult and case-specific. One of the things I think that's kind of interesting is, say what you will about how the U.S. handled the COVID situation, but in a sense, where we are now has in a way turned into a bit of a competitive advantage, it is easier to come to the U.S. than to a lot of our competitor English-speaking higher education receiving countries. And I think, for a particular example, the UK is requiring a mandatory ten-day quarantine stay in a hotel when they arrive, and that's to the cost of the traveler. Australia and New Zealand have other stricter measures in place to prevent mobility of international visitors and travelers. And so, in a sense, that's turned into a bit of a competitive advantage. But it's really all about are students and scholars going to be able to get the visas? Right now, a lot of us are dealing with tensions and questions around vaccinations. It's a balance between personal safety. We want students to have that campus experience, we recognize the importance of the campus economy. And, just frankly speaking, I think that's what keeps a lot of U.S. higher education institutions afloat. And so for those of us who are requiring vaccines on our campuses, and if you're a student from X country who may not have access to a WHO-approved vaccine or a FDA-approved vaccine, how will that be dealt with when you arrive? Will we consider you vaccinated, will we provide you with a vaccine, do you risk your own personal health and safety and not get a vaccine, perhaps, the Russian-produced Sputnik vaccine or a vaccine that's not WHO-approved and then come to the U.S. and be required by a university to get a FDA-approved vaccine? There's really no, to my knowledge, understanding of the science of the effect of vaccine layering. And so students are making these difficult decisions right now. Do I get the vaccine that I have access to, and then take a risk of getting vaccinated again when I get to the U.S.? Do I not? I think that the last thing I would really want to say, I guess two final points about sort of tensions and maybe how we should be thinking about this right now. To me, the pandemic has really highlighted the importance of having a more strategic international enrollment plan. And by strategic, I mean, diversifying sources of enrollment. For students, a lot of institutions are one geopolitical issue or one pandemic or one natural disaster away from having a significant decrease in enrollment. I think the recent surge in COVID vaccine in India is a good example of that. Certainly, there are other cases throughout recent history, relations with China, the currency situation in South Korea several years ago, different types of things that have occurred. And so, I think the second point to that is we, I think, in the United States, really, we live in the moment, we don't think about the future, right? We are, to my knowledge, the only of our competitors, who don't have a national policy on international education. We don't have a whole of government approach, we don't have a strategic plan for how we will maintain ourselves as a preferred destination for higher education for students and scholars from around the world. And I think that's a short sighted and, in my opinion, I think there's lots of reasons for that. And with that, I'll leave my remarks and open it up to questions and hopefully some nice conversation. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you, Adam, for that. It's so complicated, and there's so much to navigate, as you described. We're going to go now to all of you for your questions, comments. So you can either raise your hand by clicking on the raised hand, or you can also write your question in the Q&A box, if you prefer to do it that way. But of course, we'd love to hear from you and hear your voice. So I'm going to go first to Katherine Moore, who has raised her hand. Please tell us what institution you're with, it will give us context. Be sure to unmute yourself. Katherine, you're still—there you go. Q: [Inaudible]. FASKIANOS: Adam, did you get that or was it breaking up too much to get it? JULIAN: I didn't get it, unfortunately. FASKIANOS: Okay. Katherine, would you mind just typing your question in the Q&A box? Because your connection is so poor, we could not decipher it. If that's okay, great. All right. I'm going to go next to going next to a written question Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, who is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College. She has two questions: “Are there any estimates of how much the U.S. lost in enrollments as the consequence of onerous student visa regulations, in terms of international students studying here?” And then her second question is, “One would have expected COVID-19 to increase barriers to international students’ access to U.S. education. But from your presentation, the U.S. is more accessible than other English-speaking countries. Hopefully, we won't have another wave of infections as most campuses reopened, but if we do how would that complicate the situation?” So that's a twofer. JULIAN: I'll start with the first question. I am not aware of any specific surveys or studies that have been done to really get at how immigration policy affects student mobility. I know that Institute of International Education publishes their Open Doors report every year, and that is essentially a census or an accounting of international student mobility. You can find that readily accessible and that will show you year over year comparisons. I also know that U.S. Department of State publishes their visa issuance rates. And so, those are also publicly available. And the second part of the question—Irina help me here—I think was we would assume that the COVID-19 pandemic would increase burdens, but that hasn't necessarily been the case, or increased obstacles for students. FASKIANOS: Right. JULIAN: I would say it certainly has increased obstacles. All of last year, most of U.S. universities were operating in fundamentally different circumstances in terms of in person or virtual, etc. And consulates were largely closed. And so, I would say during that time, absolutely, there were fundamentally more challenges. But I think, I guess the point I'm trying to make now, is that because we in the United States have, just being frank, have taken a much more laissez faire approach to public health, that now there are no national restrictions on entry as there are to other competitors. So, if I'm a student, particularly, who for the last two years has tried to think about I want to come to the United States, I want to study abroad for an advanced degree, you've got this pent up demand, and right now, really the only supply that's readily and easily accessible is the United States, in a sense. I mean, certainly there are ways to go to other competitor countries, but with fewer restrictions. I hope that gets at the question. FASKIANOS: Great. Let's go next to Susan Briziarelli, who is the assistant provost for global affairs at Adelphi University, “We've heard about plans to allow visa interviews to be conducted in the consoles virtually, is this still a possibility?” JULIAN: That is a great question. I've seen many, many rumors, and I know there's efforts afoot through AIEA and others to try to advocate for that. I have not heard anything from the Department of State or any of my colleagues that leads me to believe that is in the near future. I simply—this is my, Adam Julian, my personal opinion, not that University of Maryland, Baltimore County or NAFSA—that I simply just don't think that's in the cards anytime in the near future. I know a lot of people want that. And I know that would seemingly save a lot of problems, remove a lot of obstacles, rather, that we're facing. But I just don't see that happening. I hope I'm wrong. FASKIANOS: Next question from Martin Edwards, associate professor at Seton Hall University, “Are you aware of any conversations at the higher level to better coordinate communication between CBP DOS and USCIS?” JULIAN: Another great question. And I think about that. And the reason I say it's a great question is it's one that we're constantly asking and constantly getting different answers to, and it's really important. Think back to the early days of the Trump administration with the Muslim ban, if you remember when that executive order was signed and went into action, there were literally people in the air who, when they were in the air, the U.S. Customs Border Protection had no understanding that this was happening and only received this information as they came. And so I think that sort of interagency communication is absolutely critical, particularly in a situation live we’ve found ourselves in the last four or five years where you're having such rapidly changing regulations and things like that. Every time we ask this question, we get varying degrees, in particular, I think with CBP, you get a lot more communication amongst the Department of Homeland Security agencies, and not necessarily the Department of State's Consular Affairs or the Exchange Visitor program, because if you remember, CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State is separate, in that sense. So, there's much more interagency cooperation. I know the couple of times that we asked that question at the most recent NAFSA annual conference of our agency partners, to a person, each one expressed the importance of that and that they take great strides to do it. But I'm not aware of any sort of specific actions or plans that are being made to facilitate better interagency communication, other than just to think right now, in this current climate, that's easier to happen naturally, particularly among the core career diplomats and career bureaucrats who are there administration to administration who perhaps no longer fear stepping out of line. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go next to Hamdi Elnuzahi, who's raised their hand, assistant director for sponsored students at Minnesota State University, Mankato. So, if you could unmute yourself. Q: Hello. Thank you, Adam and you, for bringing this up here. I think it is a very important topic right now. And many of the schools are looking for how to strategically manage this issue to get more enrollment in the fall. It is not a question, but I just want to share something that is very important that may reduce or decrease the number of enrollments in the fall is the visa waiting time in many countries. Based on the information that I have, in more than eighty-six countries, the visa wait time could exceed sixty-five calendar days, up to maybe two hundred-something days, and most of the U.S. embassies in these countries maybe have only one option—emergency appointment. I think these applicants from these eighty-six countries, they don't have hope even to get a visa appointment, and they will not be able to come even if they get accepted. Second, if they want to enroll, they have to just to take the one option, to enroll online from the countries until they get an appointment. Mr. Adam, can you give us some insights about that, and how we can help these students in these countries? JULIAN: Thank you, those are some great points and I would be very happy to address them. I think the point about the significant delays and visa appointments, the time between when you can actually schedule an appointment, that's, I think, what most of us are dealing with right now, that's the most critical piece. And I think all I would say to that, I guess, would be in a positive sense, I know that back to this idea of feeling like we have a colleague, and not an adversary anymore. The Department of State has indicated that they will prioritize student visas as soon as public health conditions allow. And so, if the optimist in me is looking and hoping that will mean more resources, more appointments will be available, things will be coming up and we will be able to have some students who get more visas and get more appointments quickly. Obviously, that's not a given. But it is the situation as it is right now. Your point about enrolling online is a really interesting one. And so at least from my perspective, here at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a lot of our students—we did offer our students the option throughout the last year to enroll entirely online, if they chose, from outside of the U.S. But because of—back to these limited work authorizations, there's a program known as Curricular Practical Training, which is essentially a work authorization, off campus work or internship or authorization for a student to gain practical experience in his or her field. And for the most part, by and large, you must be physically present in the United States for a year, before you can be eligible for CPT. And so we found I think, in the past year that a lot of our students just simply didn't want to, particularly our masters students, or applied masters students for whom that CPT is such an important piece of what they're coming for, just simply didn't want to enroll online, simply wanted to wait so that they could start that eligibility for CPT, which can only begin when they're in the United States. And so that's a critical piece. And then I also think—back to the online piece—one of the things that I know a lot of colleagues around the country are grappling with is as we open up, and as we go back to more in person learning on our campuses, perhaps those available online options may go away, perhaps there are fewer options. And so, what we're trying to do is to find a happy medium where we can still have, still be able to offer a student a full array of online or hybrid courses that they can enroll in from abroad, if that situation comes to that, but also not do so in a limiting fashion. And I think time will tell, I think the next month, six weeks will be really, really critical for what fall enrollment is going to look like from an international perspective. And I'm hoping for the best, I think like everyone else. FASKIANOS: Yeah, thank you very much. I'm going to go next to Jennifer Tishler, who is associate director at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Our center has several international PhD students on hold but also several international nonstudent postdoctoral scholars. The postdocs would have employment status at our university, not student status. They would be entering as F-1 students and/or J-1 scholars. As things start to open up this summer, do you know if one visa classification will get priority over another? JULIAN: Short answer is I don’t. I know so much of the conversation when we facilitated our conference session with Consular Affairs and NAFSA was around F-1 students, but I do know that they are also prioritizing—and as we've seen through the past in these national interest exemptions for “academics,” and so I think there's been a lot of manipulation is not the word, a lot of negotiation, rather, around what academic means. Does that mean anyone with a J-1 visa, does that mean an H1B who is coming to teach and that sort of thing. So, I don't know the answer to that, but I think what I would say is just in general, I know Consular Affairs is understanding to higher education’s need in this regard. And I think there's an understanding that it encompasses not just the F-1 category students. So yeah, not really a great answer, but it is what it is, as the saying goes. FASKIANOS: Right. I mean, there is so much still to sort out as states are now reopening and just so much navigate through this summer as we see how things unfold in this country. So, the next question comes from Devi Potluri, who is dean of the graduate school at Chicago State University. If you could unmute yourself, that would be terrific. Q: Thank you. Good afternoon, Adam. You did mention the difficulties those of us in the smaller state universities have in our student visas. Before COVID, we used to hear the news that because we don't require GRE, consular officers would look at as a negative thing rather than a positive thing. Do you think that COVID has changed that because most universities now waive the GRE requirement? We had some students telling us, they used to ask a question does your university have a GRE, what kind of university doesn’t, even though we are a state university, fully accurate and everything else. I don't know if you heard anything like that, or any other ideas. JULIAN: In general, that idea is something that anecdotally I've heard people, colleagues like you from around the country, and colleagues I've worked with in my capacity at NAFSA, say for years things from “Oh, you don't require the GRE” to “Oh, your [inaudible] requirements are very low. These are the types of questions that we've asked consular officers in the past, and certainly, I would admit that these practices have happened. I would suggest that they are a little more isolated than I think the belief is, I think we, human nature just sort of grasp on to these ideas that when there's a perceived sort of injustice or unfairness, I think there's human nature to really think of it as a trend rather than a few isolated incidents. But that's not to say that it absolutely does not occur, I certainly think it does occur. And, in my experience working in the past at a public state university without much international name recognition, I've encountered some of those things myself. I think there are some things that you can do to ameliorate that situation. I think, one of the things that we really focus on at UMBC, and in other places, throughout my career, where I’ve worked, is really on, I don't want to say coaching, it's not coaching students on the visa application process, but helping them understand what they have to articulate. And part of that process is explaining to a consular officer, why Chicago State? Where is Chicago State? What you're studying, what your future goals are, why you chose that specific university? I think you raise a really interesting point with the—particularly as a lot of us are going test optional, even not only with GRE and for undergraduate admissions, SAT and ACT and those sorts of things, but in the English language testing area. Duolingo, I think is making a lot of significant headway in English language. And so, consular officers provide—they have bias for TOEFL or Duolingo, or the type of testing that it is, is it a public university, is it a community college, those sorts of things. I haven't heard any anything specific, but what I guess my strategy would be or what sort of what my team tries to do is to really educate our students and our applicants on really how that burden of proof is on them. And not necessarily just burden of proof that they're not going to immigrate, but burden of helping to articulate what their future plan is and why your specific university or school or institution fits into those plans and what it is. And I think that will go a long way. FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have another question from Martin Edwards, “Many universities have decreased their staff and resources to international students on campuses over the past year in order to offset difficulties of the pandemic and lower enrollment of international students. Could you offer any data resources that we could point to, to make a case for an increase of staff and resources to support an expected increase of international students?” JULIAN: So trying to wrack my brain here for any sort of specific data, I'm aware of some benchmarking surveys that some of my colleagues, particularly people in my role as a director of international student scholar services have done with NAFSA to talk really about what ideal staffing looks like, based on enrollment. Outside of that, if you could send me a message, I could follow up with you on that. I could share that information; I'd have to locate it. I don't know where it is, and how easily or readily available it is. I'd say, one point that we might bring into this conversation is how do you go about creating additional staffing and supporting increases in students? I know there are many, many different models that people employ, whether that's an international student fee charged per semester, or whether the fee for services you charge for OPT applications that you process or H-1B applications that you process. Obviously, we all have our own political and cultural context to work within what's possible at our campuses and institutions. But I would say one place where I would want to kind of put some focus would be on how could we creatively increase those resources. But I'd be happy to share that benchmarking survey if we can connect offline somehow. FASKIANOS: Sure, we can make sure that happens. Next question from Danielle McMartin, who is director of global education at California State University, San Marcos. “We do anticipate a change in F-1 regulations regarding allowance to online classes, as many institutions and faculty have become more online friendly within their curriculum planning. You might have touched upon this, but I want to just break surface it again.” JULIAN: That's a great question. And for those of you who work closely with F-1 student regulations, you will remember that much of the language that revolves around hybrid or distance or virtual education is antiquated at best, I think there's a reference to closed circuit television in the regulations that we have to use to sort of navigate this. So, I would hope that there are some changes, I think there are a lot of things that have occurred this last year that are not going away. I think one of the things that I think about when I hear that question is what exactly does hybrid mean? How do you define hybrid? Right? That was the guidance we had to work with throughout most of the pandemic with our F-1 student populations, how do you define hybrid? Is it one minute of in-person instruction? Is it one activity? Is it a majority? There's no, like so much of our work, there's no black and white, this is what it is. And so I think that piece of sort of virtual learning, hybrid versus online versus in person, is one of the single greatest areas of need, I think, for clarity in the F-1 student regulations in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. So hopefully something will come with this. I hope we learn our lesson from this and prioritize it moving forward. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to take the next written question from Katy Crossley-Frolick, who is an assistant professor at Denison University, “You discussed the need for longer term strategic thinking regarding international enrollment and mobility. Are you sensing a shift in the Biden administration in terms of pivoting in that direction? And what should be tackled first?” If you were going to give them, 1, 2, 3, what would you advise, Adam? JULIAN: Oh, yeah, I love that, I've suddenly been given some power. This is a great. Am I sensing his shift? Yeah, I think in general, I think it's just a more friendly administration, you see it in not just international education, but more friendly to higher education. You've seen it in some recent Title Nine actions, you've seen it in some other things. I know this idea of a national policy is something that other associations and other groups have brought up and advocated for. For me, the number one—I don't know if I can come up with three—but the number one thing I would fix or would address as part of this policy is to increase opportunities for work for international students and increase the ease by which an international student has a path to permanent residency or citizenship. I know I'm preaching to the choir or so to speak here. But the value of international students to this country and to the world is really immeasurable. Right, how many of our Nobel laureates and others and Fortune 500 company founders and CEOs are former international students, right. Making the U.S. more attractive destination for the world's best and brightest minds to come, making it easier for them to work, to gain practical experience, to invest in this country in this economy, and if they so ultimately choose to have a path to permanent residency, should be the number one piece of any strategy, in my opinion. International students create jobs, international students innovate, international students who are responsible for some of the greatest accomplishments of this country, in my opinion. I’d also focus on opportunities for study abroad or study away. I think the value of mutual understanding, particularly thinking of my experience coming from smaller state schools or growing up in rural Southwestern Indiana like I did, the value of interacting with people with differing perspectives and experiences is immeasurable, so I would try to find some way to create support for international study or travel for U.S.-based students. I think that's only two, but those are the first two that come to mind. FASKIANOS: Great, and Adam, speaking from your position at UMBC, what have you done over the course of the pandemic to foster a sense of community for your international student population? And what are the strategies that you're putting into place for returning this fall, especially if some of them aren't going to make it onto campus if they are trying to get those interviews, and they're not going to be there in the fall, or make it to the fall, are you offering the online option? How are you thinking about all that? JULIAN: Well, that is, I think, the number one question that we think about every day. So, the first part: what did we do over the fall, we actually established a new program—I'm sure most the people on the call with universities have similar programs—our Global Ambassadors Program. And it really is designed to do two things simultaneously: provide funding and support for international students who already have limited opportunities for employment in the U.S. who may have lost their job because that on campus employment isn't available due to COVID. And so, we employ them to really serve as ambassadors for new students and admitted students to help them connect, build a sense of community online, virtual, different types of platforms, different types of activities that they participate in together. And really, that was sort of as a substitute to try to, during the COVID times, build a sense of community and try to replicate those bonds and the importance of mutual understanding and trust that comes with the campus experience. But the campus experience, the experience of studying in a U.S. university of vibrant campus life is really in some ways what differentiates the U.S. system of higher education from other systems of higher education in the world. And I think we would all be naive to say that's not extremely valuable. And so, we're looking at ways that we can do that safely, just like I'm sure everyone else are, that is something that we think should be critical, it's a priority. And to add to that, we've got a whole group of students, they're not many, but who came in the fall or spring during COVID, who have never visited campus. So, there's this real kind of pent up need for that. And so, we are planning things for the fall semester, we're doing some sort of hybrid orientations and meet and greets and a sort of welcome reception with our senior administration for international students to recognize the significant obstacles they've overcome to join us. And we really want to celebrate that and recognize that at the most senior levels, and so we're planning some things like that for the fall. FASKIANOS: Thank you, and then putting on your NAFSA, or your role at NAFSA. What are you doing—obviously, so much of this is dependent on our U.S. immigration policy and reforming that—what are you doing to talk to Congress to advocate for some of these changes that you've mentioned here, and that need to be put in place in order to decrease the barriers to come to this country to study? JULIAN: Yeah, NAFSA has a great advocacy wing, a group of professional staff members who are really dedicated to advocating on behalf of the Association and its members. They do several things that you can imagine, from an advocacy day to specific calls to action. One of the things, in particular, that the regulatory practice group that I've been involved with has done over the past is when there were these proposed changes to immigration regulations, the way the process works, typically, there's a public comment period where anyone can comment on how this rule will impact them, or impact their state, their university, their institution, their family. And so we've really worked with NAFSA to sort of muster the energy amongst people to write these comment letters and to have our voice be heard. There have certainly been successes, I think, through this. I think back to [inaudible]. I know at some point the duration of status was on the chopping block, so to say, so to speak, there were, it was up for public comment, and received thousands and thousands of comments. And ultimately, that was dropped by the next administration, that's no longer in danger. So, I would say, really kind of summary, two things. NAFSA’s advocacy arm works really closely with other associations and really sort of daily on the Hill for our means. And then also, we as association members, I think, really need to be actively engaged in public comment periods and things like that. FASKIANOS: Fantastic, I'm just looking to see—we're almost at the end of our time. So, I'm just wanting to see if there's anything—we covered a lot of ground. So, I think I can just turn to you for any closing remarks that you want to make before we finish up our session. JULIAN: Thanks. Well, I just want to say, I really appreciate everybody attending, and I appreciate a lot of the great questions and comments that I know were—for those of us who are in the weeds, so to speak, in this room right now, it's a very stressful time. But I think back to last summer, and then I'm reminded that it's not nearly as stressful as it was, then. So, have hope, keep the faith, we'll see, I think as things improve, appointments will open up and we'll get back to sort of establishing whatever our new sense of normal is, and we'll do it like we do all things, that's together. And I look forward to that, if I can ever help in any way and to anyone on the call, please don't ever hesitate to reach out. I'm always happy to share ways that you can get involved with NAFSA, with international students, calling regulatory practice committee, or just trying to share resources that I may have come across in my work with that group that would be helpful. And I guess that's all I have to say. FASKIANOS: Adam, I do have one final question, just as your people are navigating over the course of the summer, is there one source or a couple, a handful, that you would say should be the touch point go to reading or go to check, like every other day or daily or once a week, just sort of see where things are? JULIAN: Yeah, I would say so if you're looking at that from a sense of what's changing on a regulatory perspective, I think NAFSA, at least for student and scholar pieces, is the definitive source. And so, I would put in a plug for NAFSA.org/reginfo, that's the landing page where any recent changes and updates occur. On the consular front, it is really post specific. And so, if you're working with a student, or you have a population, have a heavy population of students from one country or another, I would really refer you to that particular embassy or consulate itself and their social media feeds. They do a great job with their public outreach. And they're a great source of information. FASKIANOS: Fantastic. And we will circulate the link to this webinar, some of the resources that were mentioned, as well as the benchmark study that Adam is going to dig out for us. So, appreciate that. So, Adam Julian, thank you very much for being with us and to all of you. I hope that people can take a little bit of a break. It has been a grueling year for educators. The summer probably won't give you much respite. But hopefully, you'll be able to take a few days off to try to reenergize and do some self-care, which is so important. So, we really appreciate it. So, thank you. You can follow Adam on Twitter @Adam_l_Julian. So I hope you will follow him there. We appreciate your expertise. And again, follow us on @CFR_Academic, and you can visit CFR.org and ForeignAffairs.com for more resources. We look forward to seeing you all again for our next webinars, so stay well and stay safe and take care. (END)
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