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  • Foreign students, visitors cite new troubles.

    As immigration authorities respond to terrorist threats by more closely
    scrutinizing men from countries with large Muslim populations, foreign
    students and visitors in South Florida and elsewhere are feeling the impact.

    At the University of Miami, for example, four students -- two from Saudi
    Arabia, one from Iran and one from Lebanon -- were stuck in their home
    countries this fall, unable to return because of visa problems.

    At Florida Memorial College, a student from The Gambia in Africa was
    delayed because U.S. authorities wanted proof that he had paid for his
    aviation-school course.

    At Miami-Dade Community College, a half-dozen foreign students were unable
    to start classes because they couldn't get visas.

    Some of the students stranded abroad have given up and opted instead to
    study at universities in Beirut and Cairo or schools in Australia, Britain
    or New Zealand, academic officials say.

    The students' problems are only one example of the crackdown's effect.
    Among the others:

    * Nonimmigrant men from 18 designated countries are required to register
    with the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- some by Monday, some by
    Jan. 10 -- because of new regulations. The Justice Department also is
    planning to announce soon that men from three more countries must report
    between Jan. 13 and Feb. 21, according to Miami immigration lawyers who
    received notice of the planned order. The countries on the list have large
    Muslin populations or poor relations with the United States.

    * Many arriving travelers from the Middle East are being delayed at
    airports and borders while immigration inspectors question them closely.

    A Jordanian business executive who arrived in late November told The Herald
    that he was pulled out of the regular immigration line and held for more
    than two hours while he was questioned, fingerprinted and photographed at
    Miami International Airport.

    KEPT FOR HOURS

    ''They put me in a room with 30 or 40 other people and kept me there for 2
    ½ hours,'' said the executive, who asked not to be identified. 'The
    officers told people who asked questions, `If you don't like it, we'll send
    you back.' ''

    Said South Florida immigration attorney Mazen Sukkar: ``It amounts to
    selective persecution of citizens of certain countries, of Arab immigrants.

    ``It may lead to a grave economic loss for schools and the economy. Saudi
    students are already going to Europe.''

    But U.S. officials say the new requirements are justified to protect
    national security.

    Until Sept. 11, many citizens of wealthy Middle Eastern countries such as
    Saudi Arabia had little trouble getting visas. The 19 men who attacked the
    World Trade Center and the Pentagon last year entered the country legally,
    then remained undetected.

    The majority, including suspected leaders Mohamed Atta and Khalid
    al-Mihdhar, arrived on visitor visas issued abroad. Another one of the
    terrorists, Saudi Hani Hanjour, arrived with a visa to study English but
    never showed up at the school.

    INS officials say the new measures will help keep out people who threaten
    the United States.

    INS STATEMENT

    ''While America is an open and generous society that welcomes visitors from
    foreign countries, it is essential that the government know who is entering
    and exiting our borders,'' the INS said in a statement.

    Stuart Patt, a spokesman for the Department of State's consular affairs
    bureau, acknowledges that more rigorous visa background checks created
    delays but says the system has become more efficient.

    ''We have improved the procedure,'' Patt said. ``We've smoothed it, and now
    we are at the point where people will not be as inconvenienced as last
    summer.''

    But immigration advocates say the new measures will further diminish civil
    liberties and deepen anti-American sentiment abroad. And academic officials
    worry that the absence of many students will affect their schools' finances
    and the economies of states where schools are located.

    LUCRATIVE BUSINESS

    ''International students account for a multibillion-dollar industry,'' said
    Vicki Bergman Lanier, director of the Spring International Language Center
    at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where about 10 Saudi
    students couldn't return to school.

    According to the Association of International Educators, the more than
    500,000 foreign students enrolled in the nation's colleges and universities
    were expected to contribute almost $12 billion to the U.S. economy during
    the 2001-02 academic year.

    Academic officials say foreign countries will benefit from the problems
    that foreign students are facing in the United States.

    ''We are not giving them visas, and Britain and Australia are being pretty
    aggressive, using the visa problems as a marketing opportunity,'' said W.
    Cyrus Reed, assistant provost for international education at Ball State
    University in Muncie, Ind.

    UNABLE TO RETURN

    In a case cited by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a
    second-year medical student at George Washington University in Washington,
    D.C., was unable to return to school from Saudi Arabia, where he was on
    holiday.

    Eid Almautairy is now doing medical work at home while the university
    pressures the U.S. government to let him come back, said Bob Ludwig, a
    school spokesman.

    Fadi Kanaan, former vice president of Yale University's International
    Students Organization, is stuck in Lebanon.

    ''When I applied for my new student visa on June 24, the earliest date that
    I could, I was told to come back to the consulate on July 26 to pick up my
    stamped passport,'' he wrote recently in a letter to the Yale Daily News.

    ``Yet, I remain without a visa for reasons beyond comprehension.''

    Visa restrictions have also disrupted scientific research, according to a
    statement released Friday in Washington, D.C., by the national academies
    that represent U.S. researchers in science, engineering and medicine.

    POSTED ON WEBSITE

    ''Recent efforts by our government to constrain the flow of international
    visitors in the name of national security are having serious, unintended
    consequences for American science, engineering and medicine,'' leaders of
    the National Academies said in a joint statement posted on the
    organization's website.

    Sukkar, the immigration attorney, said he took five Middle Eastern clients
    to register under the new rules Thursday and ended up spending 10 hours at
    the registry office at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 79th Street.

    Some immigration attorneys, including Sukkar, call the new regulations
    unfair and perhaps designed to deport or force the departure of large
    numbers of Middle Eastern visitors -- a charge that U.S. officials deny.

    ''What worries me is the lack of enough time given to these people to
    report,'' said Anis Saleh, a Miami immigration attorney with clients who
    have had to report.

    Other attorneys said visa and benefit delays as well as reporting
    requirements were scaring people, making some foreign professionals and
    investors wonder whether it's time to move elsewhere.

    ''We are basically cutting off our nose to spite our face,'' said Tammy
    Fox-Isicoff, a Miami immigration lawyer. ``When someone doesn't pose a
    security threat and we deny them admission, we are destroying our economy.
    These people buy our products, stay in our hotels, invest in our businesses.

  • #2
    As immigration authorities respond to terrorist threats by more closely
    scrutinizing men from countries with large Muslim populations, foreign
    students and visitors in South Florida and elsewhere are feeling the impact.

    At the University of Miami, for example, four students -- two from Saudi
    Arabia, one from Iran and one from Lebanon -- were stuck in their home
    countries this fall, unable to return because of visa problems.

    At Florida Memorial College, a student from The Gambia in Africa was
    delayed because U.S. authorities wanted proof that he had paid for his
    aviation-school course.

    At Miami-Dade Community College, a half-dozen foreign students were unable
    to start classes because they couldn't get visas.

    Some of the students stranded abroad have given up and opted instead to
    study at universities in Beirut and Cairo or schools in Australia, Britain
    or New Zealand, academic officials say.

    The students' problems are only one example of the crackdown's effect.
    Among the others:

    * Nonimmigrant men from 18 designated countries are required to register
    with the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- some by Monday, some by
    Jan. 10 -- because of new regulations. The Justice Department also is
    planning to announce soon that men from three more countries must report
    between Jan. 13 and Feb. 21, according to Miami immigration lawyers who
    received notice of the planned order. The countries on the list have large
    Muslin populations or poor relations with the United States.

    * Many arriving travelers from the Middle East are being delayed at
    airports and borders while immigration inspectors question them closely.

    A Jordanian business executive who arrived in late November told The Herald
    that he was pulled out of the regular immigration line and held for more
    than two hours while he was questioned, fingerprinted and photographed at
    Miami International Airport.

    KEPT FOR HOURS

    ''They put me in a room with 30 or 40 other people and kept me there for 2
    ½ hours,'' said the executive, who asked not to be identified. 'The
    officers told people who asked questions, `If you don't like it, we'll send
    you back.' ''

    Said South Florida immigration attorney Mazen Sukkar: ``It amounts to
    selective persecution of citizens of certain countries, of Arab immigrants.

    ``It may lead to a grave economic loss for schools and the economy. Saudi
    students are already going to Europe.''

    But U.S. officials say the new requirements are justified to protect
    national security.

    Until Sept. 11, many citizens of wealthy Middle Eastern countries such as
    Saudi Arabia had little trouble getting visas. The 19 men who attacked the
    World Trade Center and the Pentagon last year entered the country legally,
    then remained undetected.

    The majority, including suspected leaders Mohamed Atta and Khalid
    al-Mihdhar, arrived on visitor visas issued abroad. Another one of the
    terrorists, Saudi Hani Hanjour, arrived with a visa to study English but
    never showed up at the school.

    INS officials say the new measures will help keep out people who threaten
    the United States.

    INS STATEMENT

    ''While America is an open and generous society that welcomes visitors from
    foreign countries, it is essential that the government know who is entering
    and exiting our borders,'' the INS said in a statement.

    Stuart Patt, a spokesman for the Department of State's consular affairs
    bureau, acknowledges that more rigorous visa background checks created
    delays but says the system has become more efficient.

    ''We have improved the procedure,'' Patt said. ``We've smoothed it, and now
    we are at the point where people will not be as inconvenienced as last
    summer.''

    But immigration advocates say the new measures will further diminish civil
    liberties and deepen anti-American sentiment abroad. And academic officials
    worry that the absence of many students will affect their schools' finances
    and the economies of states where schools are located.

    LUCRATIVE BUSINESS

    ''International students account for a multibillion-dollar industry,'' said
    Vicki Bergman Lanier, director of the Spring International Language Center
    at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, where about 10 Saudi
    students couldn't return to school.

    According to the Association of International Educators, the more than
    500,000 foreign students enrolled in the nation's colleges and universities
    were expected to contribute almost $12 billion to the U.S. economy during
    the 2001-02 academic year.

    Academic officials say foreign countries will benefit from the problems
    that foreign students are facing in the United States.

    ''We are not giving them visas, and Britain and Australia are being pretty
    aggressive, using the visa problems as a marketing opportunity,'' said W.
    Cyrus Reed, assistant provost for international education at Ball State
    University in Muncie, Ind.

    UNABLE TO RETURN

    In a case cited by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, a
    second-year medical student at George Washington University in Washington,
    D.C., was unable to return to school from Saudi Arabia, where he was on
    holiday.

    Eid Almautairy is now doing medical work at home while the university
    pressures the U.S. government to let him come back, said Bob Ludwig, a
    school spokesman.

    Fadi Kanaan, former vice president of Yale University's International
    Students Organization, is stuck in Lebanon.

    ''When I applied for my new student visa on June 24, the earliest date that
    I could, I was told to come back to the consulate on July 26 to pick up my
    stamped passport,'' he wrote recently in a letter to the Yale Daily News.

    ``Yet, I remain without a visa for reasons beyond comprehension.''

    Visa restrictions have also disrupted scientific research, according to a
    statement released Friday in Washington, D.C., by the national academies
    that represent U.S. researchers in science, engineering and medicine.

    POSTED ON WEBSITE

    ''Recent efforts by our government to constrain the flow of international
    visitors in the name of national security are having serious, unintended
    consequences for American science, engineering and medicine,'' leaders of
    the National Academies said in a joint statement posted on the
    organization's website.

    Sukkar, the immigration attorney, said he took five Middle Eastern clients
    to register under the new rules Thursday and ended up spending 10 hours at
    the registry office at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 79th Street.

    Some immigration attorneys, including Sukkar, call the new regulations
    unfair and perhaps designed to deport or force the departure of large
    numbers of Middle Eastern visitors -- a charge that U.S. officials deny.

    ''What worries me is the lack of enough time given to these people to
    report,'' said Anis Saleh, a Miami immigration attorney with clients who
    have had to report.

    Other attorneys said visa and benefit delays as well as reporting
    requirements were scaring people, making some foreign professionals and
    investors wonder whether it's time to move elsewhere.

    ''We are basically cutting off our nose to spite our face,'' said Tammy
    Fox-Isicoff, a Miami immigration lawyer. ``When someone doesn't pose a
    security threat and we deny them admission, we are destroying our economy.
    These people buy our products, stay in our hotels, invest in our businesses.

    Comment

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