Posted: March 22, 2017 at 2:03 am
We talked to William Brustein, the vice president for Global Strategies and
International Affairs at West Virginia University, and asked him all about the
travel ban and what it means for WVU and its students. He shared the following:
Q: When the travel ban was initially imposed, what was your reaction? How did
that affect your job?
A: My initial reaction was to find out how many students from these seven affected
countries as well as how many scholarships from those countries did we have
here on campus. Did we have any that were in transit, trying to come into the
United States. The concern from the President and all the way down to the
people who work every day in the immigration and international scholar services
was bow do we take care of our students who are affected by this. So, we went
right into action to find out how many students and find out where they were.
And to let them know that any questions they have as were trying to seek
clarification on what the ban meant for all of us, please feel free to contact us and
we gave them numbers. Then it was just to coordinate the effort of the
universities’ teams, the president’s office and our team here, to get the message
out to the entire campus community. Then we scheduled the forum and some
students came forward with the vigil.
Q: What questions were students asking and what are the current concerns?
A: What if over spring break, I decide to go to Canada or Mexico? These, again,
are the students from the 7 affected countries? What should I do? What if I am on
the street and somebody comes up to me and asks me to show them my papers
or my license? What should I tell my parents? My parents are planning to come
over to visit for commencement or just to pick me up or travel through the U.S
during the May-June period. What should I tell them? Will this go beyond these 7
countries. We have so many students from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman and
they wanted to know if they were going to be affected. What will this mean for
me coming back next academic year?
We read the travel ban as closely as possible to understand what it meant, but
the reason we invited in one of the top immigration attorneys from Pittsburgh to
the forum is because we needed someone who truly understood immigration law
and what rights students have. She did a phenomenal job answering question
after question in that forum.
Q: When you get these questions, is it hard to respond? How do you respond to
these students with questions for you?
A: What I typically do in my position as the Vice President, is I try quickly to direct
them to the person in, or out, of my office who is tasked with knowing the
answers to those kind of questions
Q: What are your expectations with the revised ban? Is one necessary?
A: There is a stay on the current travel ban. What I hear is that the government
will come up of a revised travel ban. They may, in this one, state such things as
people with green cards or visas already will be allowed into the U.S. It may likely
state the reasons why these seven countries are being identified, but staying
away from any religious tests. So, they will come back with something, I’m pretty
certain. Those are expectations, but my wish is that there is no need because I am
a data driven person and there is no evidence that individuals from those
countries, that have come here, have caused any harm to our national security. I
am very supportive of strong vetting and we have that in place. It is even getting
better and better. I can’t think of a country who has a stronger vetting process for
refugees or immigrants than the U.S. I would hope that we emphasize those
offices overseas and staff those offices to do the job. I am a firm believer that
refugees and immigrants add value, they enrich our society. The data and the
proof is there. The worst thing that we can do as a country, at this point in our
history, is to close our doors to the great global talent out there. I would just hope
that the government would pull back and not issue a new travel ban.