On February 1st, I attended the forum about immigration policies sponsored by CIS. People in the audience wrote questions on a piece of paper to ask the members of the panel; and naturally, many of the questions revolved around the recent policies implemented by the Trump administration. I would like to engage critically with the material covered in the forum, but I cannot do so without first addressing the overwhelming sense of sadness and fear that permeated the room. Everyone in the auditorium felt the same uneasiness for the days to come.
Regardless, the questions asked in the forum pertained to logistical factors such as the potential effects on F-1 visas and OPT processes. To these types of questions, the panel responded by assuring students that in-country processing has not been affected—yet. There were also questions regarding the potential expansion of the executive ban to which the panel could not deny the possibility, they could only say that it has not been extended—yet. Finally, someone asked the question on everyone’s minds: why did Trump choose these countries? An IAS professor in attendance responded by saying that the Trump administration was dipping their toes in the water, so to speak, and trying to see how much they could get away with. If that is the case, then I’m afraid what the cannon-ball will look like.
The panel was well-constructed and informative. I felt that all the members were knowledgeable, and it was heartening to hear how the OU community is supporting and protecting their international community. However, there are still those lingering feelings of uneasiness that will not dissipate until students can stop asking the question “If I leave the country to visit my family, can I come back?”