International students deserve same rights as Americans

To the Editor:

I must say I was shocked and disappointed by the column (“Student visa controls benefit U.S. citizens, foreigners,” 12/4). I have no idea to whom Meghan Clyne ’03 spoke before she wrote that “U.S. student visas require too little effort to obtain and carry too few binding restrictions once acquired.”

I very much want to go to the country where that is the case and get my visa. Speaking from my experience in Ghana, you have to book an interview at least two months before you plan to travel. At the interview, you have to take the I-20 the U.S. school issues you, your transcript and a number of required documents. Even with all this, the U.S. government reserves the right to turn you down, which it does often. I went to an international school in Ghana, and in my final year, a number of people got into Harvard and were denied visas.

Clyne goes on to ask what is bad about limiting student visas and putting controls on students once they arrive in the United States. I think it is important to note that even the U.S. Constitution often does not distinguish between Americans and foreign nationals once they are in the country.

The United States prides itself on having almost every type of freedom imaginable. Limiting these freedoms to just U.S citizens is like saying that the rest of the world is not good enough to be granted these rights. I do not deny the fact that the events of Sept. 11 were horrible and something needs to be done to ensure it does not happen again. At the same time, care has to be taken to ensure that innocent people are not made to suffer unnecessarily.

In the three and a half years I have spent in the United States and at Yale, I have learned a lot from my peers, and I feel that I have succeeded in teaching people a little about my specific part of the world. I was glad when Yale and a number of other universities recently decided to offer need-blind admissions to international students, and I would hate to think that many qualified students will be denied this opportunity because of even more stringent visa policies.

I cannot claim to know the answer to the question of what must be done now, nor can I deny the fact that one of the terrorists did hold a student visa. What I can say for certain though is that restricting student visas is not the best way to go about dealing with the issues at hand.

Nana Akua Asafu-Agyei ’02

December 5, 2001

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