My buddy got his undergrad degree in the late 80s so maybe it’s different now, but back then bringing foreign students here was one of the best ways for the USA to project soft power.
A cohort of other nations’ smartest kids would come to live in America for several years. Here, they not only learned the subject matter of their academic major, they were introduced to American culture. They saw Americans up close and personal, they discovered delicious greasy pizza and cheap beer and shiatty TV and Ultimate Frisbee and drunk billiards in the student union and (if they were lucky) college girls. Then they either stayed and contributed to America, or they went back home. If they repatriated, as educated elites they were more likely to attain positions of power and influence, and retained fond memories of playing euchre while drunk and/or stoned with their American buds which inclined them to regard America favorably.
And for the universities, it was all good because those foreign students paid full fare.
Why would we want to torpedo that?
To paraphrase: “When other countries send people to the US, they’re not sending their best”… any more. I would think this will push domestic student tuition rates higher. But Trump supporters deride all those college elites anyway.
I think this is something that’s been boiling for a while. The difficulty of transferring a student visa into a work visa has gotten much higher since the H1 visa quotas have been throttled in the past few years.
So instead of getting smart, young people who want to stay here, we get hordes of people applying for the visa lottery and hoping to win big. College and work seem like a pretty good filter for weeding out the ones who shouldn’t be granted long term stay privileges.