Mexico – U.S. look to increase student exchanges; will anti-immigration zealots stand by?


ObamaMexPresident Obama has made a foray into Latin America with stops in Mexico and Costa Rica. There is no shortage of topics that could have been, and most probably were, discussed as a visit to the region by a US president, long overdue, is of huge importance.

But perhaps, as Andres Oppenheimer points out in his Miami Herald column today, the most important issue was the least reported. Namely the suggestion that increased student exchanges between the US and Mexico would benefit both countries.

Only 13,700 Mexican students are enrolled in U.S. colleges, compared with 194,000 from China, 100,000 from India and 72,000 from South Korea, according to the “Open Doors’’ study of the Institute of International Education.

“We want more Mexicans studying in the United States, and more American students studying in Mexico,” Obama said. “And we’re going to focus on science, technology, engineering and math.”

Fernando Serrano, the Mexican  under-secretary of Upper Education (under of upper – great title) stated the goal is to have between 40,000 and 50,000 Mexican students in US universities by 2017.
Student exchange programs are the proverbial win-win situations; the more people from different cultures and backgrounds that mingle and come to understand each other the better as far as I’m concerned. That is particularly true when those people are coming together in an educational environment.

I suspect it’s only a matter of time until some see this as a way for more Mexicans to gain access to the US

So how did this get lost in all the economic, drug and immigration news reports on Obama’s trip? I’m not sure, but it may be for the better as this goal of increased Mexican students in the US will surely lead to anti-immigration criticism even if one assumes the students will be on temporary visas. I suspect it’s only a matter of time until some see this as a way for more Mexicans to gain access to the US, fearing the students will disappear into the bigger society. An increase in the number of immigrants veiled in an educational exchange program. Let’s hope the program goes ahead regardless.

Published by DCMontreal

DCMontreal - Deegan Charles Stubbs - is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

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