Student government addresses ban in Senate

BY NICOLÉ VILLACRES '18 

The Student Government Association hosted Jennifer Medina, immigration advisor for international students, and Donna Van Handle '74, dean of international students, at senate on Tuesday to address questions regarding the recent executive order. Students expressed concerns regarding the Trump administration's immigration policy and its possible effects on international students and parents of international students visiting for graduation. 

The executive order bars citizens from the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. It also suspends the admission of refugees from all seven countries for 120 days. Syrian refugees have been barred from entering the United States for an undetermined period of time.

Van Handle opened the session by reading the statements already released by the college and further emphasizing that "we stand in solidarity with you all and make sure that you all know that we are all here for you."She then opened the session to any questions from students for Medina to answer. 

One student asked whether students should still try to get their parents to come for commencement if they are coming internationally from the Middle East. Medina said that parents should still apply for their visas. She speculated that it is possible that they might undergo administrative processing, in which every federal agency vets an applicant and it can take up to six months to be issued a visa. Medina did not think that it would become an issue for those not from the specified seven countries, but advised students to watch the situation closely. 

Students also asked about whether or not their parents who already received visas should try and fly in. Medina advised to "monitor what's coming through and if it looks like it's okay, I would still tell them to come. The worst thing that would happen is that they would get sent home."

Medina noted that the school offered graduation invitation letters to assist parents of international students in applying for visas to attend commencement. The request for the letter is available on the McCulloch Center website, under the tab for international students, in the heading for "preparing for graduation."The letter is only available for parents, siblings, grandparents and aunts and uncles. Medina suggested parents also take a copy of the letter when they go through customs, as well as suggesting that students write letters explaining why their parents are visiting. If necessary, Medina said the school would be able to issue other letters or look into providing more supplementary documents. 

As for international students from the seven countries who might not be able to return to their homes, Medina said that the school has received correspondences from alumnae, staff members and parents of local students willing to house any students unable to return home. 

"It's been amazing the amount of response," Medina said, also noting that the network of support extended through the Seven Sisters. She said that the administration will stay vigilant regarding any possible issues that may arise for international students when traveling.

As for any students possibly being deported, Medina assured those in attendance that it is difficult to deport someone and students would be "okay if they don't leave the country, they can only be deported easily if they are in an airport or if they are within 100 miles of the border." 

In terms of international students traveling, Medina said that she would advise students not from the seven countries who are standard F1 visa holders to make sure that they have a passport valid for the next six months, an unexpired visa, a certificate of enrollment and other necessary documents. She said that it's safe to travel for other international students, but that could change at a moment's notice. 

"Be mindful of any executive orders that come out between now and then,"warned Medina. She also noted that the process of naturalization for people from those seven countries has ceased, even if they were scheduled to take the oath of allegiance, the oath taken by immigrants to become citizens, in the coming week. The naturalization process may change for anyone not from those seven countries, but it would require serious policy change that can't be enacted through an executive order. 

Medina urged any students with questions or concerns to make an appointment with herself or to see an immigration attorney. At 5:30 p.m. today in Cleveland L2, immigration attorney Megan Kludt from Curran & Berger will be hosting an information session .                                                                                                          

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