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Students React to Latest Travel Ban

© AP
© AP
The international-student community remained unconvinced about unrestricted travel as President Trump’s revised executive order on immigrant travel was announced Monday.

The new order makes two changes relevant to international students. It removes Iraq from the travel ban, leaving six countries on the list -- Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya -- from entering the United States.

And it removes green card holders, or non-citizen permanent residents, from the ban, allowing them to travel without restriction in and out of the U.S.

"The new order signed today ... [applies] only to foreign nationals outside the United States who do not have a valid visa," said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly. "It is important to note that nothing in this executive order effects current lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our country."

"If you have a current valid visa to travel, we welcome you," Kelly wrote in a release from DHS.

After the first travel ban was issued on January 27, numerous students were stopped, detained or rejected at the border. While there are more than a million international students in the U.S., a number that has nearly doubled in the past decade, about 15,000 international students are affected by the travel ban.

Of those, 12,000 come from Iran, which is among the six countries that continues to be affected by the travel ban.

"As an Iranian, this order is going to cause many serious problems since I am also seeking a postdoctoral position here in U.S. and have already found a position in one of the best universities in my field," said a Fulbright fellow at University of California-Davis.

"So now I have to choose from staying in U.S. like a prisoner and pursuing my research, or going back to visit my family. And then there is no guarantee to have a chance to come back and finish my studies," the student wrote in an email. "The situation is completely unsure and all Iranian students are in doubt and under stress."

Peter Asaad, an immigration attorney and partner at Quarles and Brady in Washington, advised that "although the Executive Order purportedly will not automatically invalidate current unexpired visas, individuals from the six countries should be advised to refrain from exiting the U.S. when possible."

"And those outside the U.S. should seek to enter as soon as possible until there is greater clarity," he said.

Notable universities have pushed back and announced that they will protect and assist their international students in freely traveling and continuing their academics.

“Regardless whether current and pending executive actions affect access to the U.S. for anyone from designated countries, [State University of New York at] Buffalo is a welcoming campus for students, faculty and visitors from across the globe, and is committed to remaining so,” President Satish K. Tripathi stated.

Eight universities filed papers in support of a federal lawsuit against the first travel ban on February 3. They included Boston College, Boston University, Brandeis University, Harvard College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northeastern University, Tufts College and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Following that, 17 universities filed legal papers February 13 against the first ban , calling it “serious and chilling” to international education. They included Brown, Columbia, Harvard, John Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton, Stanford, Vanderbilt and Yale.

"The new travel ban will surely get litigated," said Asaad. "The court will look at whether there is a rational basis for the travel ban which may again stop the president's action under the same rationale as the Washington District Court's nationwide ban."

Students took to social media to air their opinions.

"There have been more deaths from vending machines falling over than from the nationals of 6 muslim-majority countries," tweeted Ali Nasar, a student at the University of Texas-Dallas, in response to the latest executive order. He included a graphic showing more deaths by vending machine than terrorists in the U.S.

The U.S. green card is available to international students who show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business and who can certify that they have a job offer. The U.S. limits those EB-2 visas to 40,000 holders each year. Students may obtain a green card through family channels, as well, by being the spouse, minor child, married or unmarried son or daughter, or brother or sister of U.S. citizens who is 21 or older.

They may also be priority workers through an EB-1 visa if they have extraordinary abilities or are outstanding professors or researchers on a tenure track position.

"The new executive order affects lots of highly educated Iranians for research collaborations with U.S. universities. Right now, there are lot of Iranians working as university staff in U.S. and also a number of very talented Iranian students enter U.S. every year and pursue cutting edge researches without any security problems," one Iranian student said.



In addition to green card holders, those excluded from the new restrictions are dual nationals using passports from unaffected countries; persons with valid U.S. visas or other travel documents; persons on diplomatic or similar passports; and persons who have been granted asylum in the U.S.

Consular officers may also make exceptions on a case-by-case basis for individuals with business, study or family connections to the United States. Individuals already in the United States are also excluded.

The new order includes a temporary halt to refugee admissions and approval for admissions for 120 days. Some exceptions are possible, but they are limited. The order also calls for refugee admissions for all of 2017 to be capped at 50,000. This could be called a “refugee cap” or “refugee limit.”

Last year, international students added $32.4 billion to the U.S. economy last year.



Are you concerned about the most-recent travel ban? Have advice for others? Please leave a comment here, and post to our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, thanks!

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Senator draws attention to universities that haven’t returned remains

Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, speaks with reporters as he walks to a vote on Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023 in Washington.
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More than 70 U.S. universities continue to hold human remains taken from Native American burial sites, although those remains were supposed to be returned 30 years ago.

Jennifer Bendery writes in Huffington Post that one senator has been using his position in an attempt to shame universities into returning remains and artifacts. (April 2024)

COVID forced one international student to go hungry

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When Samantha (not her real name) enrolled in community college in the U.S., her family at home in South Africa scrimped and saved to support her.

But the COVID-19 pandemic hurt the family’s finances, and at one point Samantha had four on-campus jobs just to make ends meet. Many in the U.S. believe international students are wealthy sources of funding for universities, but stories like Samantha’s suggest otherwise.

Andrea Gutierrez reports for The World. (March 2024)

Tips for paying for a STEM degree as an international student

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For US News & World Report, Melanie Lockert describes how to calculate the cost of a STEM degree, and where to find funding. (March 2024)

NAIA all but bans its transgender college athletes from women's sports

FILE - NAIA women’s basketball players gather after a game in St. Louis, Feb. 22, 2024. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, said Monday that transgender athletes would be all but banned from women's sports.
FILE - NAIA women’s basketball players gather after a game in St. Louis, Feb. 22, 2024. The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, said Monday that transgender athletes would be all but banned from women's sports.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the governing body for mostly small colleges, announced a policy Monday that all but bans transgender athletes from competing in women's sports.

The NAIA's Council of Presidents approved the policy in a 20-0 vote. The NAIA, which oversees some 83,000 athletes at schools across the country, is believed to be the first college sports organization to take such a step.

According to the transgender participation policy, all athletes may participate in NAIA-sponsored male sports but only athletes whose biological sex assigned at birth is female and have not begun hormone therapy will be allowed to participate in women's sports.

A student who has begun hormone therapy may participate in activities such as workouts, practices and team activities, but not in interscholastic competition.

"With the exception of competitive cheer and competitive dance, the NAIA created separate categories for male and female participants," the NAIA said. "Each NAIA sport includes some combination of strength, speed and stamina, providing competitive advantages for male student-athletes. As a result, the NAIA policy for transgender student-athletes applies to all sports except for competitive cheer and competitive dance, which are open to all students."

There is no known number of transgender athletes at the high school and college levels, though it is believed to be small. The topic has become a hot-button issue for those for and against transgender athletes competing on girls' and women's sports teams.

At least 24 states have laws barring transgender women and girls from competing in certain women's or girls sports competitions. Last month, more than a dozen current and former college athletes filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA, accusing the sports governing body for more than 500,000 athletes of violating their rights by allowing transgender women to compete in women's sports.

The Biden administration originally planned to release a new federal Title IX rule — the law forbids discrimination based on sex in education — addressing both campus sexual assault and transgender athletes. But earlier this year, the department decided to split them into separate rules, and the athletics rule now remains in limbo even as the sexual assault policy moves forward.

Hours after the NAIA announcement, the NCAA released a statement: "College sports are the premier stage for women's sports in America and the NCAA will continue to promote Title IX, make unprecedented investments in women's sports and ensure fair competition for all student-athletes in all NCAA championships."

The NCAA has had a policy for transgender athlete participation in place since 2010, which called for one year of testosterone suppression treatment and documented testosterone levels submitted before championship competitions. In 2022, the NCAA revised its policies on transgender athlete participation in an attempt to align with national sport governing bodies, following the lead of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

The three-phase implementation of the policy included a continuation of the 2010 policy, requiring transgender women to be on hormone replacement therapy for at least one year, plus the submission of a hormone-level test before the start of both the regular season and championship events.

The third phase adds national and international sport governing body standards to the NCAA's policy and is scheduled to be implemented for the 2024-25 school year on August 1.

There are some 15.3 million public high school students in the United States and a 2019 study by the CDC estimated 1.8% of them — about 275,000 — are transgender. The number of athletes within that group is much smaller; a 2017 survey by Human Rights Campaign suggested fewer than 15% of all transgender boys and transgender girls play sports.

The number of NAIA transgender athletes would be far smaller.

Humanities degrees are tougher sell for international students 

FILE - People walk near the campus center at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., Dec. 9, 2013.
FILE - People walk near the campus center at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J., Dec. 9, 2013.

That’s the argument of one Princeton undergraduate from South Korea.

OPT, the government program that allows college students to work in the US for a short time after graduation without securing a work visa, is biased toward STEM degree holders.

As a result, many international students forego humanities, or choose tech or consulting jobs when their passions lie elsewhere.

Read Siyeon Lee’s argument in the Princetonian. (March 2024)

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