In a letter to all members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, President Charles M. Vest has urged them to oppose any proposals to freeze the issuance of visas to foreign university students in the United States.
"Many members of the MIT community are extraordinary, talented and accomplished colleagues who happen to be foreign nationals," Vest wrote. "They come from more than 60 nations. Many of them have defined their professional and scholarly fields ... As we fashion our response to the threats before us, we must not forsake our unique traditions and deep commitment to be a nation of immigrants and a land of opportunity.
"For this essential reason I urge you to oppose all proposals to freeze the issuance of visas to foreign students. A blanket freeze is likely to be as unworkable as it is unsound. It also will be counterproductive to our strategic and economic needs. Even a limited ban on student visas will damage seriously our essential relationships with other nations. It also will aggravate our national shortage of highly skilled scientists and engineers. The painful effects of such a freeze will be felt immediately. They will not, however, be reversed quickly or easily."
The major higher education associations are also working to oppose a student visa freeze.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 3, 2001.