International student resources on campus in wake of increased border security

Ben Hume, Staff Reporter

The past decade has seen an increased concern for border security in the United States. It has also seen all kinds of power shifts and governmental systems created, the most infamous of which might be the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This government group has received much press during President Donald Trump’s administration, and it means the safety of international and immigrant students on college campuses has come to the forefront of the minds of those affected.

This issue came to a head for those of us living near Canada when WBUR Boston radio aired an interview on their segment Here and Now. The story was about increased border patrol searches on private bus lines and if the questionings are legal. WBUR interviewed Dennis Harman, division chief for the U.S. Border Patrol Houlton Sector in Maine, asking him multiple questions about the legality of their policing methods. A notable quote from the interview includes that officers are allowed to ask anyone their right to remain in the United States within 100 miles of any international border, a place most of Michigan happens to fall into.

This leads to many concerns for those worried about their citizenship status. So, what can those on college campuses do if they feel worried about their status, particularly international students at Oakland University?

Petra Knoche is the international adviser at the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO). Her office is capable of helping with two types of visas, F-visas and J-visas. The former are for degree-seeking students, while the latter is meant for exchange students.

Knoche recommends the Graham Health Center for anyone who feels they need counseling for the difficulties of the immigration process, as she understands how difficult it can be. She says the process has lengthened from “three to four months to nearly 12 months” for acquiring a visa, and that the fees can cost “around $200, and you also have to pay another $200 immigration fee.”

The ISSO has more roles than ever, especially now that “it is much more difficult these days than it was.”

“It’s much stricter, and the process can often be confusing,” Knoche said. “No one will ever tell you why your visa was denied.”

David Archbold, director of the ISSO, agrees with this sentiment, and wishes for Oakland to be every international student’s “home away from home.” When international students do arrive at Oakland University, there are many programs available for them to help them feel more included in the university, including International Night and a program called International Allies, where international and domestic students are matched up to help the process of moving to a new place just a little easier.

Though the politics of the world may always be changing, OU offers resources like the ISSO and Graham Health Center for concerned students. While it can be a concerning time for anyone traveling internationally, with worries both at home and in the U.S., students who need assistance are encouraged to contact the ISSO for questions related to their visa status. For more information, visit the ISSO website or call (248) 370-3358.