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Immigration Policy Could Kill Dreamer's Rhodes Award

Harvard University graduate Jin K. Park, who holds a degree in molecular and cellular biology, poses at a gate at Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Harvard University graduate Jin K. Park, who holds a degree in molecular and cellular biology, poses at a gate at Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Harvard University graduate Jin Park didn't just earn an esteemed Rhodes scholarship to study at the University of Oxford in England with all expenses paid.

He's the first "Dreamer" — or non-citizen undocumented U.S. resident -— to be selected for the vaunted honor. Famous Americans who shared that honor include President Bill Clinton, Senators Cory Booker and Bill Bradley, journalist Rachel Maddow and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.

The scholarship was created in 1902 by British businessmen and politician Cecil Rhodes. It pays all costs for at least two years of study at Oxford. Since Park is technically not an American, and he said he fears not being allowed back in the U.S. if he leaves for England.

Dreamers were children brought to the U.S. illegally, who came to the U.S. without documents, or who came legally but their legal status expired. Park, 22, came to the U.S. with his parents from South Korea when he was 7.

In 2012, former President Barack Obama gave Dreamers protected status to stay in the U.S., where they had grown up, under a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). To be eligible for DACA protection, immigrants must have entered the country by 2007 and been younger than 16 when they arrived.

Park is a DACA recipient, which means he receives a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation.

DACA beneficiaries could travel in and out of the U.S. if they were granted advance parole, allowing them to leave the country and return for purposes such as studying abroad.

But in September 2017, President Donald Trump announced his administration would phase out DACA, and discontinued the travel abroad option. Some states challenged that decision in federal court which have upheld the DACA policy. The Trump administration is seeking a Supreme Court review of those decisions.

Should I stay or should I go?

Nearly 700,000 DACA individuals remain in legal limbo in the contentious American discussion about immigration. Among them is Pack, who says the excitement of being selected for the Rhodes scholarship has been replaced with feelings of uneasiness.

"If I leave, there's a very real possibility that I won't be able to come back. That's the biggest fear for sure," said Park.

Harvard University graduate and Rhodes scholarship winner Jin Park is also a DACA recipient.
Harvard University graduate and Rhodes scholarship winner Jin Park is also a DACA recipient.

Park told the Associated Press he has had a difficult time talking to his parents about the risks of accepting the Rhodes scholarship. They cried out in happiness when news of the award came.

“I’ve been avoiding that question,” he said days after finishing his studies at Harvard. “This was especially meaningful for them. It was like a validation of the sacrifices they’ve made for me.”

Rhodes' hands tied

Elliot Gerson, the American secretary for the Rhodes organization, said the issue is a "matter of American law and not anything the Rhodes Trust can resolve alone.

"Our hope is for federal action," he added.

Kristian Ramos, a representative for immigrant support organization Define American, said the government should enforce the law as it stands and let Park study in England.

Park said he wants to remain a voice in the immigration debate and thinks the value of going to Oxford is greater than the risks.

"I'm looking forward to having that unstructured time to think about these broader questions of who belongs in America and the value judgments we make about others," he said.

Park has been a voice for DACA recipients since he was in high school. In 2015, he founded Higher Dreams, a nonprofit group that helps students without permanent immigration status gain admission to college.

With the help of Harvard, Park competed for the Rhodes scholarship last year, partly to show how this and other awards ignore DACA recipients.

Harvard University graduate Jin K. Park, who holds a degree in molecular and cellular biology, listens during an interview in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The story of Park’s application

Park's first Rhodes application was rejected. When the organization changed its policy last year, Park re-applied and was selected.

Gerson said the change shows the organization's efforts to expand who can apply. Legal permanent residents and residents of U.S. territories like Puerto Rico have also been permitted to apply in recent years.

At Oxford, Park said he hopes to study migration and political theory, but the molecular and cell biology major has also applied to medical school. But he is also open to possibly working in city government, where he could help change immigration policy "no matter who is in the White House," he said.

Regardless, Park said New York City is home.

"For me, I think of Queens, New York," he said. "Whatever happens, I'm always going to know that fact. Even if I have to spend the rest of my life convincing the administration, or whoever comes next."

U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, which oversees DACA, did not answer Associated Press emails seeking comment.

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Survey: Social integration, career prep are important to international students

FILE - FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.
FILE - FILE - In this March 14, 2019, file photo students walk on the Stanford University campus in Santa Clara, Calif.

A recent survey of international students in the United States found that before starting school, they were concerned about personal safety, making friends and feeling homesick.

Inside Higher Ed reports that international students want specialized orientations, peer connections, career preparation and job placement to help make their college experiences successful. (July 2024)

US advisory council ends Nigeria visit, signs student exchange deal

Deniece Laurent-Mantey is the executive director of U.S President's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement.
Deniece Laurent-Mantey is the executive director of U.S President's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement.

Members of a U.S. presidential advisory council have approved a student exchange deal between an American college and a Nigerian university as part of the council's effort to strengthen collaboration on education, health, entrepreneurship and development between Africa and Africans living abroad.

The council also visited a health facility supported by the United States Agency for International Development in the capital.

Nigerian authorities and visitors chatted with members of the U.S President's Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement as they toured a healthcare facility in Karu, a suburb of Abuja, on the last day of the council's three-day visit to Abuja and Lagos.

The facility is one of many supported by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, to improve the management of childhood illnesses, family planning, immunization and delivery.

The tour was part of the council's effort to promote African diaspora-led investments in technology entrepreneurship, education and healthcare delivery.

"They're doing a phenomenal job there, it really gave us a sense of what the healthcare system is in Nigeria," said Deniece Laurent-Mantey, executive director of the advisory council. "This is our first trip as a council to the continent and we chose Nigeria for a reason — the diaspora in Nigeria is very active, very influential, and they're really a source of strength when it comes to our U.S.-Africa policy. And so for us coming to Nigeria was very intentional."

The council was created by President Joe Biden in September to improve collaboration between Africa and its diaspora in terms of economic and social development.

Akila Udoji, manager of the Primary Healthcare Centre of Karu, said officials in Nigeria were pleased that the council members were able to visit.

"We're happy that they have seen what the money they have given to us to work with has been used to do, because they have been able to assist us in capacity-building, trainings, equipment supply and the makeover of the facility," Udoji said.

Earlier, the council signed a deal for a student exchange program between Spelman College in the southern U.S. city of Atlanta and Nigeria's University of Lagos.

Laurent-Mantey said education exchanges are one of the council's top priorities.

"In Lagos, we had the president of Spelman College — she's also a member of our council — she signed an agreement with the University of Lagos to further education exchange programs in STEM and creative industries between those two universities," Laurent-Mantey said. "And I think for us it's very important, because Spelman College is a historically Black university, and so here we are promoting the importance of collaboration between African Americans and Africans."

In March, the advisory council adopted its first set of recommendations for the U.S. president, including the student exchange initiative, advocating for more U.S. government support for Africa, climate-focused initiatives, and improving U.S. visa access for Africans.

The council met with Nigerian health and foreign affairs officials during the visit before leaving the country on Wednesday.

American Academy of the Arts College announces closure

FILE - Signs and writing denouncing the closure of the University of the Arts are seen at Dorrance Hamilton Hall on June 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. More recently, the American Academy of the Arts College in Chicago announced it would close.
FILE - Signs and writing denouncing the closure of the University of the Arts are seen at Dorrance Hamilton Hall on June 14, 2024, in Philadelphia. More recently, the American Academy of the Arts College in Chicago announced it would close.

The American Academy of Art College in Chicago announced it would be closing after 101 years of preparing students for careers in art and illustration.

WTTW news reported that like other art colleges, the academy saw enrollment drop after the pandemic, and officials made the decision to close the college last month. (July 2024)

update

5 killed, dozens injured in clashes over Bangladesh jobs quota system

Protesters of Bangladesh's quota system for government jobs clash with students who back the ruling Awami League party in Dhaka on July 16, 2024.
Protesters of Bangladesh's quota system for government jobs clash with students who back the ruling Awami League party in Dhaka on July 16, 2024.

At least 5 people were killed and dozens injured in two separate incidents in Bangladesh as violence continued Tuesday on university campuses in the nation's capital and elsewhere over a government jobs quota system, local media reports said quoting officials.

At least three of the dead were students and one was a pedestrian, the media reports said. Another man who died in Dhaka remained unidentified.

The deaths were reported Tuesday after overnight violence at a public university near Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka. The violence involved members of a pro-government student body and other students, when police fired tear gas and charged the protesters with batons during the clashes, which spread at Jahangir Nagar University in Savar, outside Dhaka, according to students and authorities.

Protesters have been demanding an end to a quota reserved for family members of veterans who fought in Bangladesh's war of independence in 1971, which allows them to take up 30% of governmental jobs.

They argue that quota appointments are discriminatory and should be merit-based. Some said the current system benefits groups supporting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Some Cabinet ministers criticized the protesters, saying they played on students' emotions.

The Bengali-language Prothom Alo daily newspaper reported that one person died in Dhaka and three others, including a pedestrian, were killed after they suffered injuries during violence in Chattogram, a southeastern district, on Tuesday.

Prothom Alo and other media reports also said that a 22-year-old protester died in the northern district of Rangpur.

Details of the casualties could not be confirmed immediately.

Students clash over the quota system for government jobs in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 16, 2024.
Students clash over the quota system for government jobs in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on July 16, 2024.

While job opportunities have expanded in Bangladesh's private sector, many find government jobs stable and lucrative. Each year, some 3,000 such jobs open up to nearly 400,000 graduates.

Hasina said Tuesday that war veterans — commonly known as "freedom fighters" — should receive the highest respect for their sacrifice in 1971 regardless of their current political ideologies.

"Abandoning the dream of their own life, leaving behind their families, parents and everything, they joined the war with whatever they had," she said during an event at her office in Dhaka.

Protesters gathered in front of the university's official residence of the vice chancellor early Tuesday when violence broke out. Demonstrators accused the Bangladesh Chhatra League, a student wing of Hasina's ruling Awami League party, of attacking their "peaceful protests." According to local media reports, police and the ruling party-backed student wing attacked the protesters.

But Abdullahil Kafi, a senior police official, told the country's leading English-language newspaper Daily Star that they fired tear gas and "blank rounds" as protesters attacked the police. He said up to 15 police officers were injured.

More than 50 people were treated at Enam Medical College Hospital near Jahangir Nagar University as the violence continued for hours, said Ali Bin Solaiman, a medical officer of the hospital. He said at least 30 of them suffered pellet wounds.

On Monday, violence also spread at Dhaka University, the country's leading public university, as clashes gripped the campus in the capital. More than 100 students were injured in the clashes, police said.

On Tuesday, protesters blocked railways and some highways across the country, and in Dhaka, they halted traffic in many areas as they vowed to continue demonstrating until the demands were met.

Local media said police forces were spread across the capital to safeguard the peace.

Swapon, a protester and student at Dhaka University who gave only his first name, said they want the "rational reformation of the quota scheme." He said that after studying for six years, if he can't find a job, "it will cause me and my family to suffer."

Protesters say they are apolitical, but leaders of the ruling parties accused the opposition of using the demonstrations for political gains.

A ruling party-backed student activist, who refused to give his name, told The Associated Press that the protesters with the help of "goons" of the opposition's Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami party vandalized their rooms at the student dormitories near the Curzon Hall of Dhaka University.

The family-of-the-veterans quota system was halted following a court order after mass student protests in 2018. But last month, Bangladesh's High Court nulled the decision to reinstate the system once more, angering scores of students and triggering protests.

Last week, the Supreme Court suspended the High Court's order for four weeks and the chief justice asked protesting students to return to their classes, saying the court would issue a decision in four weeks.

However, the protests have continued daily, halting traffic in Dhaka.

The quota system also reserves government jobs for women, disabled people and ethnic minority groups, but students have protested against only the veterans system.

Hasina maintained power in an election in January that was again boycotted by the country's main opposition party and its allies due to Hasina's refusal to step down and hand over power to a caretaker government to oversee the election.

Her party favors keeping the quota for the families of the 1971 war heroes after her Awami League party, under the leadership of her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, led the independence war with the help of India. Rahman was assassinated along with most of his family members in a military coup in 1975.

Police open hazing investigation after Dartmouth student found dead

FILE - A student walks on the campus of Dartmouth College, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Hanover, N.H.
FILE - A student walks on the campus of Dartmouth College, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Hanover, N.H.

Police have opened a hazing investigation after a Dartmouth College student was found dead in a river in early July.

Police received a tip that hazing was involved, and there was evidence that alcohol might have been involved in the death, USA Today reported. (July 2024)

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