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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, June 14, 2024

Proposed student visa system has significant drawbacks

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has proposed a bill for a six-month moratorium on foreign student visas. This would prevent new international students from entering the United States to study, but it does nothing about the 30 million total visa holders already in the country. This in itself is something to raise an eyebrow at. However, the reason for the moratorium is to give the Immigration and Naturalization Service time to develop an electronic system to track foreign students, their spouses and their children. Also suggested is that all schools must report the status of their foreign students on a quarterly basis, along with a list of their classes.  




A moratorium will not stop terrorists organized enough to perpetrate the acts of Sept. 11. It will, however, stop thousands of international students from continuing their education and may even alienate many and cause them to look for an education outside of the United States. 




Sen. Feinstein should look at international students as possible social weapons for the United States instead of possible terrorists. When a person has lived somewhere, they become attached and wish to protect their new home. They see people here in the United States as similar to themselves. But, more importantly, an education will improve students' opportunities for a better life, no matter where in the world they choose to live. Many blame terrorism on poverty and the want for a better life. In that case, education will help eliminate any inclination towards terrorism. 




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There are more than half a million international students in the United States at any given time. Like anyone else, they have to pay tuition and living expenses, thereby contributing to the economy. With everyone worried about the economy, it would be a bad idea to stop a significant group of people from contributing to it. Furthermore, many Americans are employed in services catering to international students. For example, English as a second language teachers would no longer have anyone to teach. 




Right now, the United States has the backing of most nations'something needed to effectively fight terrorism. Foreign countries might not like it very well if the United States suddenly decided there would be no new international students for six months, and after that time they would track all international students. The plan is, after all, to single out their citizens for 'special' treatment. The United States should not be looking to alienate any of its allies at this critical time.  




The proposed tracking system reminds me of animals collared with radio transmitters in order to learn their migratory patterns. Essentially, the system will track all international students and invade their privacy to learn their patterns and interests by having their class schedules examined. Personally, the very idea makes me feel uncomfortable and it strongly reminds of the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s or George Orwell's '1984.' However, it is not only an idea reminiscent of dictatorial tendencies, but it is also very insulting and I'm sure infringes not only on one, but several privacy acts. 




I would like to point out that it is not only insulting to foreign students, bad for the economy and infringes on an individual's rights, but it is impractical. Where will the money and resources to finance this program come from? Wouldn't it be better to invest some of these millions of dollars in developing a better INS procedure to screen students when they first apply for a student visa? Improve the system trying to stop terrorists from entering the country in the first place'don't try to guess who they are once they are here by trying to interpret class schedules. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 




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