Travel ban raises concerns for international students

President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on Jan. 27 protecting the Nation from Terrorist attacks by foreign nationals. This executive order forced the Department of State to provisionally revoke all valid visas of nationals from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Saddleback College president Tod Burnett issued an email reaffirming the college’s commitment to all following the executive order.

A man protesting with emotion, illustrating that love trumps hate no matter what ethnicity. (Photo courtesy of Shayan Ebrahim.)

“During this time of confusing rhetoric, and uncertainty, Saddleback College wishes to reaffirm our values of inclusiveness and diversity.” Said Burnett. “Our primary job is to educate all students who stand to benefit from higher education.  We continually strive to create a welcoming environment where all people can learn and grow.”

Saddleback college has over 200 international students that are here on F-1 Visas. The students from the seven countries listed in the executive order have come forward with concerns of how this ban affects them. Some students are concerned with what happens after graduation. As of now, after graduation, students are allowed to remain in the United States for one year after graduation while working.

“Students are concerned about what the next step is,” said Angel Yang, director of international students program at Saddleback College. “And if this benefit will continue to apply to them.”
The international students office is the first place international students turn to for advice on how to handle the effects of the executive order. One student was unable to see her family for spring break and had to cancel her trip because not only was she not allowed to return to her home country, but her family member’s visas were also rejected and were not allowed to visit her in the U.S.

“These are families just visiting each other, her parents can’t even come here for a week to visit, and she can’t go there,” said Jennie McCue, director of Marketing and Communications for Saddleback College.

International students from Saddleback College contribute more to the college than just cultural diversity. The National association for foreign student advisers finds that of the 1,043,839 international students studying in U.S., colleges and universities contributed $32.8 billion and supported more than 400,000 jobs during the 2015-2016 academic year.

International students from Saddleback contributed $5.3 million to the local economy and supported 33 local jobs. International students pay a much higher rate for tuition, and very few of them have a sponsor, forcing them to pay the tuition fees on their own.

“You hear so much about what they are getting from us, but it really is a symbiotic relationship” McCue said.

International students face a variety of challenges, language being the most difficult, but some of the international students also feel isolated being in a new country and learning a new culture. In an effort to assist in social integration, the international students department has several activities and events to help keep them engaged in campus activities.  

Every Tuesday they have peer mentorship where domestic students and international students meet in the quad, play games, converse and try to build friendships. They hold a monthly workshop that helps with matriculation and the adjustment adapting to a new culture.

The travel ban was temporarily blocked by a Washington court. On Feb. 7 a federal appeals court ruled unanimously against reinstating President Trump’s travel ban. An appeal to the ban is on the horizon, which was made apparent on twitter


While students are left waiting to see what President Trump’s next move is International students continue to feel uncertainty. At this time Yang is encouraging international students to communicate their concerns and to continue to participate in campus events that encourage community, friendship, and most importantly diversity.