Schools are scrambling to meet the Jan. 30, 2003 deadline to enter information about international students and visitors into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The system is used to track a student’s status while they are in the United States, using information such as their name, date of birth and country of origin.
As of Oct. 1, new regulations were implemented for some international students, demanding that they register with the nearest Immigration and Naturalization Services office every year. Considering the Sept. 11 Attacks, these new regulations and the demands made on colleges are reasonable.
But some new regulations state these individuals can only leave the United States from certain airports. If an individual’s departure is not documented with an INS inspector, they run the risk of not being able to re-enter. These individuals’ fingerprints and photographs will be matched against a database of known criminals and terrorists.
So now, in addition to tracking all international students, there are even stricter regulations for certain individuals, such as those from the Middle East. The restrictions and regulations have gone too far. Yes, security needed to be stepped-up after Sept. 11, but there is a fine line between protecting the nation and protecting an individual’s right to live here.
The recent regulations are destroying international students’ experience in the United States. Many come here to enjoy the freedom that is now being taken away from them. The regulations shouldn’t make individuals from other countries feel like they are unwelcome, but this is exactly what is happening.