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FALSE: Colleges can’t shield information on international students from the feds

If you’ve seen any colleges releasing self-congratulatory statements about how they’ll protect foreign students from the prying eyes of the Trump administration, well, it’s pretty much BS.

The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that Duke and the University of Michigan were among those trying to burnish their reputations following the weekend’s bungled rollout of the administration’s immigration executive order.

Yet it’s an empty gesture:

International students are some of the foreign visitors most closely monitored by the federal government. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, or Sevis, an online platform to track foreign students in the United States, was approved as part of the USA Patriot Act. Among other things, Sevis requires colleges to report students’ addresses, courses of study, enrollment information, and employment data, among other things.

While international students are enrolled at American colleges, their academic activity is also reported through Sevis. For example, colleges must report on the enrollment status each term of student-visa holders, as well as whether those students take a leave of absence, withdraw or are suspended from enrollment, all authorized and unauthorized drops from full course loads, resumptions of full course loads after drops, off-campus jobs, information on spouses or children, changes in address, changes in majors and completion dates, college transfers, and termination or graduation.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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