Attorney Dan Berger co-wrote the following blog post for NAFSA.org with Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran and Krista McCallum Beatty:

Advising in a Time of Immigration Uncertainty

It has been a year since the last NAFSA blog of the same title.[1]  The uncertainty continues, but we have had a chance to regroup and focus on the strengths that NAFSA offers.  This blog discusses the reality of advising at a time when a new regulation, court case, or policy shift could hit at any moment, and proposals and rumors abound.

I feel as if I’m not helping if I say “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure.”

We continue to express strong support for our international populations even if we cannot give them definitive advice.  Travel, for example, involves risks – in a particular situation, a security delay may be unlikely, but can happen in any case.  Advisers provide the best service when they provide clear information for our international populations to make informed decisions.  If supervisors, professors, etc. know ahead that a security delay is possible, it is easier to react if that happens.  Advisers who feel less comfortable discussing uncertainty and possible security delays can take this opportunity to refer to an immigration attorney.

Everything is moving so fast. I don’t have time to answer questions carefully and accurately.

There are detailed, practical resources produced by NAFSA that continue to be updated, and support our members.  The Adviser’s Manual 360 is an essential resource.[2]  Not only does the Manual have excellent advice with hyperlinks to the primary sources, but it is written in plain English.  Sometimes copying a warning or explanation, and forwarding to a student, scholar, department or counsel, can be the most efficient way to communicate uncertainty.  We do not need to reinvent the wheel.

For key topics like the travel ban, there is a page with the latest information.  And for students to understand their rights, see this page and a resource template located here.

DACA is currently alive as the fight continues in the courts, but is not available to new applicants (this is as of April 1, 2018!). This means, sadly, that the younger siblings of your DACA students are not able to apply for DACA when they turn 15. Updates will be on the NAFSA website and through nilc.org.

I’ve never posted on the NAFSA Network before.  The people who post a lot all know more than I do.

Do it.  The KC ISSS and ISS RP team members monitor the networks (along with seasoned advisers), and will try to make sure that your question is answered.  If you are mulling an issue, chances are someone else is too. The network is a way to share information and ideas daily.

Feel free to reach out to your KC ISSS regional liaison or ISS RP members specifically with a draft posting.  They can reassure you, and help make sure it’s as clear as possible.  ISS RP also actively monitors the listservs and will help clarify answers.

IssueNet, an online reporting tool available to both NAFSA members and non-members, is monitored regularly by ISS RP and NAFSA staff.  You can use NAFSA’s IssueNet platform to submit good examples of institutional response, not just problems.  If you see or have a particularly good institutional response – a website, e-mail to students, update for administrators – please submit them.  These can be models for other schools that NAFSA can share.

NAFSA would also like to hear positive stories about international students and scholars – they can be used for advocacy to inspire support.  NAFSA now issues quarterly summaries of postings in IssueNet.

Anti-immigrant feeling is strong these days. I don’t know what to do to support our international students and scholars. 

First, NAFSA is dedicated to its Connecting Our World Initiative, a platform for advocacy.  You can sign up for updates, and take advantage of the tools available.  There is also a special student campaign.  NAFSA has re-doubled its efforts to lobby for international education, and put out a positive image of the value of international students and scholars.

Also work with other offices on campus.  Get to know your government relations office (through appropriate channels in your office, of course!).  Help them understand the key challenges you face from tightening immigration policies.  Together, you can discuss supporting efforts by other organizations, sharing concerns with Congressional offices (whether in an open letter or behind closed doors).  If you need an economic argument, use NAFSA’s Economic Value tool.  The IIE Open Doors report also has valuable information.  In addition, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has an excellent two-part report about immigration changes over the past year: “Deconstructing the Invisible Wall”.

Find ways to communicate with alumni – both international and in general.  They are a group all over the country who can hear stories of your international students and scholars, the great work they are doing, and the challenges they face.  Perhaps the alums will be motivated to hire and mentor international students, or contact their own congressional offices to support reasonable immigration policies.

Connect with your school’s media and communications offices to share positive stories of your international population, such as this great piece recently produced at Iowa State.  Note specifically the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign.  Thinking ahead to the next academic year, you can check this site for ideas for orientation week in the fall.

The job is just harder than it was a couple of years ago.

If you have not already, share this reality with the people to which you report.  If they understand the landscape, they will be more supportive when there are challenges. There is more change, more bad or scary news, and continued uncertainty.  However, over the past year, the international education community has risen to the challenge of operating in this environment.  We are not in it alone, and the tide will turn.  Moreover, if we are feeling a bit overwhelmed, our international students and scholars are even more anxious.  Together, we can provide support and information so they can continue to enrich our country.

 

[1] https://millermayer.com/ 2017/tips-for-surviving-in-a- time-of-immigration- uncertainty/.

2 If you are not familiar with the Manual – see http://curranberger.com/ resource/navigating-the-nafsa- manual-foreign-students-and- scholars-regulations/.

Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran is the Director of International Services at Clemson University and serves as Network Leader for NAFSA’s International Scholar Advising (ISCA) Network.

Krista McCallum Beatty is the Director of International Students and Scholars Office at Iowa State University and serves as chair for NAFSA’s Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services.

Dan Berger is a partner at the Massachusetts law firm of Curran & Berger and serves as the regulatory practice coordinator for NAFSA’s Knowledge Community for International Student and Scholar Services.