Some international students are wary about Bush’s foreign policy

Jerret Raffety

The re-election of President George W. Bush last week has left some international students wary.

Many of the students said they are frustrated with changes in U.S. foreign policy and actions carried out by the Bush administration in the last year or two, said Kapil Bansal, president of the Minnesota International Student Association and a computer engineering senior.

“I’ve spoken with a lot of members of (the international student association),” Bansal said.

“The general favorable position was for the Democrats,” he said.

Some things international students said they are concerned about include travel restrictions on non-U.S. citizens who are coming to the United States, new regulations on visas and decreased job opportunities for students in the country.

“I don’t blame the Bush administration for being strict after Sept. 11, (2001,) but we still feel discriminated against,” Bansal said.

This feeling has not been detrimental to the community of international students on campus, he said.

“It is amazing to see the way international students have stuck together, disregarding personal and cultural differences, especially considering that this campus has students from 90 different countries,” Bansal said.

International students will be watching the president closely in the coming months, he said.

“Now is a critical time to see change in U.S. foreign policy, because the Bush administration has promised a lot,” Bansal said.

Some international students said they feel the Bush administration is too eager to use force to defend its interests.

“According to his past record, whenever a nation turns against (the United States) in any sense, Bush has attempted to suppress them,” said Mohit Dargan, an international and fourth-year technology student.

Bush’s victory will be good and bad for the international community, Dargan said.

“(The Bush administration) will increase trade with economically developing countries like China and Malaysia, but increased restrictions will make it hard for students from those countries to study or get a job out here,” Dargan said.

Many international students have expressed concern about the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, Dargan said.

SEVIS, established in 2003, is a Web-based system for maintaining information on international students and exchange visitors in the United States, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site.

Students must maintain their status with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Web site said. Status is maintained by fulfilling a set of requirements listed on the student’s particular visa. Those who do not comply with the requirements and instructions can be subject to arrest and possible deportation, according to the Web site.

Some international students are worried SEVIS will be used to track their locations, movements and activities in the United States, said first-year international student Bonhong Ku.

Bansal said SEVIS was “frightening” for many international students but critical for national security at the same time.

“You should really only be scared if you have something to hide,” he said.