Since the Trump administration’s executive orders regarding immigration, there have been reports of aggressive questioning and searches conducted on foreign citizens entering the US with valid visas and immigration documents. These incidents suggest direct racial profiling and the singling out of individuals based on their travel history, including but not limited to the seven countries initially named in the ban.
At Boston University, international students are a significant part of both the undergraduate and graduate populations. In 2016, BU enrolled more than 3400 international graduate students and 3600 undergraduates, including 877 graduate students in GRS alone. Many faculty members and postdocs are international scholars, and students and scholars often travel outside the US for research and to visit family and friends. Events following the executive order have created an air of anxiety and confusion around traveling abroad and re-entering the US.
In light of these events, BUGWU-UAW has gathered practical information and resources for foreign citizens and international travelers to supplement the information available through BU’s International Students & Scholars Office.
On Monday, June 26th, the US Supreme Court issued a limited stay in the case IRAP v. Trump which partially reinstated the revised Executive Order (EO) from March 6, 2017 that singled out citizens of Somalia, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen. This decision will allow the EO to go into effect except with respect to those individuals who have a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the US. The Supreme Court explained that a “bona fide relationship” includes anyone with family in the US or anyone who has a relationship with an entity, including students who have been accepted at US universities. Under this definition, all students, workers, or people engaging in scholarly activity at BU should be allowed to renew their visas or re-enter the country.
At this time, Boston University’s official advice to students is to contact their adviser at the ISSO to receive guidance regarding travel and visa renewals. The travel restrictions do not apply to green card holders (lawful permanent residents) or to dual nationals from one of the designated countries traveling on a passport from a non-designated country. The government will likely issue guidance in the coming days regarding how it will assess whether individuals have qualifying ties to the US. Nonetheless, the remaining restrictions on entry into the US and the enhanced screening mechanisms that have already gone into effect threaten the academic community’s ability to sustain critical engagement with colleagues from the affected countries.
The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that the laptop ban is no longer in effect. Passengers traveling from the ten Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban may now bring their laptops into the cabin of their airplane and use them during flights. Nonetheless, increased security measures are still in effect and may be ramped up even further in the coming months.