More restrictions on visas not the answer

To the Editor:

I lack words to denounce properly the column (“Student visa controls benefit U.S. citizens, foreigners,” 12/4).

My question is simply this: Has Meghan Clyne ’03 stopped to consider that the kinds of policies she endorses in her article would be inevitably intertwined with snap judgments associated with race, ethnicity and even social background, however much she would like to deny it?

It is naive to say that, in the wake of the events of Sept.11, immigration officials will not find themselves tempted to make such judgments.

It is hard enough to obtain a student visa. As an international student myself, I remember how difficult and arduous it was to get my F-1 status.

If the restrictions Clyne proposes are put in place, acquiring visas will become such a daunting task that many qualified international students will throw their hands up in despair.

Has Clyne also stopped to consider that it is not the lack of restrictions, interviews, paperwork and just overall bureaucracy that is the problem here, but rather the cavalier attitude of immigration officials that might be at fault?

There are already plenty of restrictions, interviews and paperwork to be found within the visa process, and they should be enough to screen out potentially dangerous candidates, if they are taken seriously and dealt with in the appropriate manner.

The visa process is already difficult enough without adding to it the additional injury of becoming suspect simply because of wanting to obtain an education at an American institution.

I wonder how someone who claims to not only be interested in, but also supportive of, studying in foreign countries could advocate such policies. I’m sure that if Clyne were to find herself under the scrutiny of the restrictions that she is proposing, she would not only think twice about studying abroad, but would also find herself greatly insulted by the insinuation that she was, by the mere act of trying to gain academic entry into a country, somehow connected with terrorist plots.

The last time I checked, coming from overseas was not a crime, and it should not be treated as such.

Americans are not treated as a ticking bomb when requesting entry to other countries, and it is not because there are no “bad people” to be found in the United States — it is because they do not fall under suspicion by the mere fact of their being foreign.

The United States should find it within itself to issue the same respect to international students seeking to study here.

While I deem it a great privilege and an amazing opportunity to study here at Yale, I find it neither great nor amazing to find myself confronted with opinions such as Clyne’s at an institution that is supposed to foster better and more productive ideas.

Anne Bono ’03

December 5, 2001

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