INS fee unnecessary

In an attempt to better track possible violations of international student visas, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has drafted a proposal that will require universities across the nation to report information about international students to the federal government. The INS then plans to track the information, such as a student’s academic status, using a database funded by incoming international students. Each student will be required to pay a $95 fee to the government. The INS, however, has decided to impose the responsibility of collecting the fees on the University. The issue of collecting the money from new international students has caused an uproar among academic institutions, and with good cause. Requiring universities to collect funding for this federal project is unnecessary at best, and could prove harmful.
The purpose of the fee is to fund a federal program that operates outside of the interests of the University. According to “NAFSA: Association of International Educators,” the purpose of the student tracking system is to “protect the safety of Americans and ensure the integrity of the U.S. immigration system.” The program is not designed to benefit the University nor international students, therefore the University has no responsibility to act as a third party in the fee transaction and should not need the extra burden of collecting the fee.
Gathering funds for the INS project obscures the role of the University. The International Studies and Scholar Services has a responsibility as host and adviser to international students. NAFSA, along with the University, fears that if the INS imposes the duties of collecting the fees on universities, those schools will resemble government agencies rather than institutions of higher learning. The University should avoid any situation that would give the impression that they are an agency servicing the INS. If the role of the University becomes unclear, its relationship with international students could be compromised, which would undermine the true purpose of the institution.
Section 641 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which describes universities’ roles in the process, does not specify any advantages to requiring the University to collect the fee. According to NAFSA, the INS collects fees from other international travelers. Therefore, they should be able to gather the funds without involving the University. In fact, this would be in the best interest of the INS, since involving a third organization could only complicate the process, and increase the likelihood of error. If the INS simply charged incoming students the fee themselves, it would eliminate the more cumbersome method of administering and enforcing the fee system through the University.
The University already shares information about international students with the INS, and requiring the University to collect funds for a federal project is unnecessary and imposes what should be a government responsibility on the school. The INS should look after its own interests and allow the University to continue its role as adviser and host, unhindered by needless federal requirements.