Area foreign students fear they won’t be let back in U.S.

Zahra Khashei is having second thoughts about whether she should have left Iran to study in the U.S.

“Everybody is wondering if they would have come here again,” she said. “We are all thinking about it.”

Khashei, a graduate student studying electrical engineering at Wright State University, is one of 50 or so international students there affected by the travel ban ordered by President Donald Trump. The University of Dayton has around 45 students affected and Miami University has around 28 students, scholars and staff impacted, officials said.

Trump’s order included a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

“We can give you numbers but these are people’s lives,” said Michelle Streeter-Ferrari, director of Wright State’s Center for International Education. “It has an intimate impact on our students.”

Khashei, who wears a hijab, said she is worried the religious garb may make her the target of harassment and discrimination. Since the ban went into effect, she said she and some of her friends have questioned some of the people they are around.

“I think there are good and bad people,” she said. “But, not all countries are bad.”

Khashei and Aghiad Al Khiamy, a WSU student from Syria, said the ban has forced them to delay visiting their families in their home countries until they finish their degrees. For Al Khiamy, who hasn’t seen his family in three years, it may be another three before he sees them again.

“I should be allowed to go and visit my family but there is no way I can leave now,” Al Khiamy said. “There is no reason for me to be put in this position.”

In an email to the campus on Monday, Ohio State president Michael Drake cautioned students and faculty about traveling outside the U.S. if their home country is one of the seven mentioned in Trump’s executive order. Drake said those who still have to travel should seek help from an immigration attorney.

Wright State officials have provided the same advice, Streeter-Ferrari said.

While international students said they have been shocked by the ban, some lawmakers are standing by it. U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Urbana, said Trump’s order was a “common-sense” measure that”reflects the will of the American people.”

“The U.S. is the most welcoming country on the planet, and we want people to come here and pursue their dreams,” Jordan said in an emailed statement. “But we have a right and a duty as a country to ensure that those who want to come here do not intend to do us harm.”

Wright State and Miami University are hosting forums this week to address any lingering questions or concerns international students may have.

Wright State will host a panel discussion on the executive order at 3:30 p.m. in 101 Fawcett Hall on Thursday while Miami is hosting a forum for students at 4:15 p.m. at MacMillan Hall on Tuesday, officials said. UD is having discussions with students who may be impacted said spokesman Shawn Robinson.

“We support them and we want them to be here,” said Cheryl Young, assistant provost of global initiatives at Miami University.

Amer Mohammed, a Miami grad student from Iraq, said he is hopeful because of protests and the support he has received from his school and his peers. But, Mohammed said watching the events of last weekend unfold were nerve-wracking and at times, terrifying.

“They just judge you by if you are a Muslim and from the Middle East then you’re a terrorist,” Mohammed said. “But we came because the U.S. says you are equal to us here… hopefully that’s how it will stay here in Oxford.”


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