Our immigration policy hurts more than helps. Just one example is the way we treat incoming foreign students. Dr. Allan E. Goodman, President/CEO of the Institute of International Education, made the point vividly in recent testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology (Subcommittee on Research and Science Education):

We can all imagine how circumstances might impact international students coming to the United States. Many of us have helped our own children negotiate entering college and understand that it can be a time of great anticipation and excitement but also nervousness and trepidation for young people . . . . [I]magine the incredible fortitude, drive and courage to leave your home country, fly to the United States, navigate the non-immigrant visa review and border entry processes and enter an institution of higher learning here in America.

. . . . All too often we hear of unpleasant and extremely harassing treatment of incoming students and scholars, particularly of those who come from the Middle East or whose name identifies them as an adherent of Islam. Sometimes the [Department of Homeland Security border] inspector does not appear to understand the process by which international students are admitted to our colleges and universities, and end up questioning the student about issues that have already been decided by the visa-granting [U.S. consular] officer back in the home country.

This treatment can be particularly intimidating for students who may be traveling abroad for the very first time and who may be confused of what is being asked of them. Some students hail from countries or cultures where figures of authority are never questioned or talked to – even if trying to clarify a request or order. And, of course, there are cultural or religious issues to be bridged. For instance, some Muslim women are not allowed to talk to men outside their family. Some cultures do not encourage direct eye contact with strangers, and hence the student may appear evasive or non-forthcoming in responding.