The need to ensure U.S. national security is indisputable. But, xenophobic viewpoints actually work against the national good, particularly when they are expressed by officials who have been elected to represent common causes such as scientific innovation and better educational opportunities for everyone.
At the same time, Hassan points out, overly restrictive policies are preventing international researchers from learning about, and potentially appreciating the United States: "They are pushing away those very people who need to understand U.S. culture - the people who could be going back to their countries and changing the way that others think of America," she notes.
Hassan--whose father serves as executive director of the Third World Academy of Sciences--says that she fully understands the need for increased security measures. But, she adds, common sense in applying the new rules should permit reasonable exceptions, and more efficient processing should reduce delays.
The U.S. government is now taking steps toward improvement: Science Advisor Marburger has acknowledged excessive delays in reviewing student visas, and he has pledged to address the problem. The U.S. House Science Committee also is investigating delays and denials affecting international students, meanwhile, and members have asked the U.S. General Accounting Office to study the issue.
But, for many international students, the wait
continues. Saria Hassan knows that if she leaves
the United States before graduating, she probably
will find hers