US col­leges help stu­dents wary of trav­el­ing home

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Art stu­dent Us­man An­war planned to spend this sum­mer at home in Pak­istan, vis­it­ing fam­ily and hik­ing with friends, but as he fol­lowed news about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s or­ders on im­mi­gra­tion, he de­cided it was too risky to leave the US. “I had a feel­ing that if I would go back ... I won’t be able to con­tinue my stud­ies here again,” he said.

In­stead of vis­it­ing La­hore, the 22-year-old sopho­more re­mained at Adel­phi Uni­ver­sity on New York’s Long Is­land, which pro­vided him with a free room and a cam­pus mar­ket­ing job - as­sis­tance that was key, he said, be­cause his fam­ily hadn’t bud­geted for the ex­pense and visa re­stric­tions limit off-cam­pus work. Adel­phi is among a num­ber of US schools that of­fered hous­ing, em­ploy­ment or other help to ac­com­mo­date in­ter­na­tional stu­dents who stayed be­cause of the con­cern and un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing US re­quire­ments since the White House im­posed a travel ban on six mainly Mus­lim coun­tries.

A Supreme Court rul­ing on the travel ban ex­empted many trav­el­ers who have a “bona fide re­la­tion­ship” with an en­tity in the US, such as those ad­mit­ted to uni­ver­si­ties. But ed­u­ca­tors who work with and ad­vo­cate for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents say many re­main con­cerned, even if they aren’t from the six listed coun­tries - Iran, Libya, Syria, So­ma­lia, Su­dan and Ye­men.

“Whether or not the fears that the stu­dents have are based in a con­crete re­al­ity is al­most not rel­e­vant,” said Perry Greene, Adel­phi’s vice pres­i­dent for di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion. “What’s rel­e­vant is the anx­i­ety and fear that for our stu­dents was quite real.” It’s un­known ex­actly how many in­ter­na­tional stu­dents de­cided to can­cel travel plans and stay put this sum­mer. Some schools say they learned of such stu­dents only through ef­forts to make as­sis­tance avail­able.

Travel ban rules

Ohio Uni­ver­sity said it pro­vided sum­mer hous­ing or din­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions for 18 stu­dents from the coun­tries in Trump’s tem­po­rary travel ban rules, cov­er­ing the costs through an ex­ist­ing en­dow­ment used to help stu­dents in need. A hand­ful of Lawrence Uni­ver­sity stu­dents from two coun­tries not on the list, Pak­istan and Jor­dan, de­cided to stay in the US, and the school in Ap­ple­ton, Wis­con­sin, pro­vided re­cep­tion-type cam­pus jobs for two of them, said Leah McSor­ley, the as­so­ciate dean of stu­dents for in­ter­na­tional stu­dent ser­vices.

Many other schools pointed for­eign stu­dents to sup­port ser­vices and le­gal re­sources that could help with travel ques­tions. “With the un­cer­tainty that’s there, I think peo­ple have been think­ing twice about some of these de­ci­sions and want­ing to make sure that they don’t put them­selves in sit­u­a­tions that could com­pli­cate their lives,” said Fanta Aw, the in­terim vice pres­i­dent of cam­pus life at Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity in Wash­ing­ton, DC. The school sur­veyed in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the spring and found that many planned to stay for sum­mer, of­ten for aca­demic or pro­fes­sional rea­sons, but travel and visa con­cerns also were a con­sid­er­a­tion, Aw said.

An­war said he re­con­sid­ered his sum­mer plans af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­creased air­port scru­tiny and height­ened anx­i­ety among trav­el­ers when he re­turned to New York from a visit in Jan­uary shortly be­fore Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion. He’s still wary about trav­el­ing and won­ders whether talk­ing about his con­cerns might cause him trou­ble in the fu­ture. Await­ing fall se­mes­ter, he has spent his free time sketch­ing or oc­ca­sion­ally grab­bing ha­lal meals with friends at a Long Is­land restau­rant. He is get­ting home­sick and wants to visit Pak­istan dur­ing win­ter break - maybe, “if the sit­u­a­tion changes.” — AP

NEW YORK: In this un­dated photo pro­vided by Adel­phi Uni­ver­sity, stu­dent Us­man An­war works at his cam­pus job. — AP

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