Future uncertain for international students waiting for next shoe to drop on Trump's travel ban

Future uncertain for international students waiting for next shoe to drop on Trump's travel ban
Future uncertain for international students waiting for next shoe to drop on Trump's travel ban

Susan Cohen, chair of the immigration practice at the Mintz Levin law firm told CNBC that "everyone who is here on a visa should consult a competent immigration lawyer before leaving the country," even if their home country was not on Trump's executive order.

Cohen is working with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which hosts about 2,000 international students and scholars. When the travel ban took effect, MIT students were returning to school from winter break.

Niki Rahmati, one MIT junior studying mechanical engineering, was not allowed to board her connecting flight in Qatar to get to Boston. When the ban was lifted, Niki returned to MIT on February 3, along with four other banned MIT researchers and students.

Another MIT engineering student, Amna Magzoub, a dual citizen of Sudan and the United States is hopeful that her parents will make it to graduation. "There's not much I can do on the legal front and that's where the battle is now," she told CNBC.

Last week, seventeen universities with a collective $193 billion in endowment funds filed a lawsuit against President Trump because of the travel ban. The suit argued that a travel ban "threatens that ability and creates significant hardship for...valued international students, faculty, and scholars."

The Department of Justice declined to comment to CNBC regarding the pending court litigation, while the White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

According to Derrick Bolton, the Dean of Stanford University's Knight-Hennessy Scholars Admissions, two-thirds of the program's scholars are expected to be international students in the first inaugural year.

"The immigration ban would do more harm than good," said John Hennessy, the co-founder of the scholarship, to CNBC.

Trump's action has drawn bipartisan criticism. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren railed against the ban on the floor of the Senate. "None of these people are criminals. None of these people are threats. They're students at some of the world's top universities," Warren said in January.

Separately, Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State under former president George W. Bush, said the executive order restricting immigration was "ill-considered and even badly delivered," according to a report in Politico. Rice told a Silicon Valley audience that "I was the National Security Adviser on 9/11. The day after 9/11, we closed our borders and thought that we were more secure. That turned out to be a mistake."

The immigration order unleashed a wave of protests, even as Trump defends the need to restrict movement from countries the U.S. government considers high risk. Still, the raw emotion surrounding the issue showed no signs of abating.

"I find this ban deeply hurtful and harmful, as it targets the most vulnerable of our global community," said Banen Al-Sheemary, a former Iraqi refugee who recently graduated from the University of Michigan.


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