Representative Gerald Connolly (VA-11) led a group of lawmakers in speaking out on the floor of the House of Representatives and submitting statements on the record noting the important contributions of international students and scholars. Learn more.
Download a printable version of this toolkit
1. Draft a letter or email to your member of Congress.
2. If your member expresses interest, offer them more information.
Reply with a follow-up letter/e-mail expressing thanks for their interest.
Include stories and facts about international students and scholars from your institution and others in your state/district if possible.
Offer to connect them with NAFSA staff for questions.
3. Follow up.
If you do not hear back from the office, call and request a response to your letter/email.
If your member does agree to give a speech, keep in contact with the office to find out when it will happen. Schedules on Capitol Hill are often influx and can change at the last minute. They might also submit an official statement to the record without speaking live on the House or Senate floor.
4. Share the Victory.
After your member gives a speech or submits an official statement, send a thank you letter or email.
Share your success with the Connecting Our World community.
Sample Request Letter
The Honorable [MEMBER’S FIRST AND LAST NAME]
[DC OFFICE ADDRESS]
Dear Representative/Senator [LAST NAME OF MEMBER]:
I am writing to request that you make a statement on the [HOUSE/SENATE] floor in support of international students and scholars and international education.
As a constituent and a higher education professional on the frontlines of working with these students, I see firsthand the difference positive rhetoric can make in creating a welcoming environment for these students who enrich our local communities in numerous ways. Welcoming international students and scholars strengthens our diplomatic ties with other nations and is integral to our national security. Furthermore, they are essential to our ability to compete globally and provide significant economic contributions. In fact, international students bring $[ADD ECONOMIC VALUE FOR YOUR STATE OR DISTRICT FROM
WWW.NAFSA.ORG/ECONOMICVALUE] according to the latest data from NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
I’ve attached additional talking points for your consideration that I hope will be helpful for writing a floor statement or speech.
I appreciate your time and look forward to further communicating with you on this issue as a constituent.
YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION]
Sample Opening Statements
“I rise today in support of a globally-engaged and welcoming United States. Hosting international students and scholars at our colleges and universities has historically been one of the most important ways America reinforces those values. I urge my colleagues and the administration to recognize the vital contributions international students, scholars, and their families make to the United States.”
“I rise today on behalf of international students, scholars, and the U.S. institutions of higher education they attend who have been unfairly penalized by the administration’s efforts to limit travel to our country. I urge my colleagues and the administration to recognize the vital contribution international students, scholars and their families make when we welcome them to this great country.”
Sample Talking Points
Welcoming international students and scholars strengthens our diplomatic ties with countries across the globe and is integral to national security.
International students and scholars who have spent time in the United States become informal ambassadors when they return home, sharing an appreciation for common values, counteracting stereotypes about the United States, and enhancing respect for cultural differences.
In some cases, future U.S. and foreign leaders will have studied or conducted research together, creating even more direct diplomatic ties beneficial to national security.
The ability to perform and compete globally is a vital component of a 21st century education.
Less than 2% of U.S. students study abroad each year, so having international students on our campuses can better prepare U.S. students to succeed as global citizens.
International students and scholars also ensure the growth and sustainability of many academic programs. Their participation in certain courses often makes it possible for a school to offer those courses—often in STEM subjects—to U.S. students, while simultaneously increasing innovation in many fields.
International students contribute to the economic well-being of the United States. According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, during the 2016-2017 academic year, international students and their families supported more than 450,000 jobs and contributed nearly $37 billion to the U.S. economy.
In my state/district, during the 2016-2017 academic year, [ADD IN STATE/DISTRICT ECON DATA FROM
Sample Ending Statement
“To ensure our nation’s security, economic well-being, and academic leadership, we must remain an open and welcoming United States. So, to the international students and scholars who may be unsure about coming, I say: Your contributions are valued and you are welcome here.”