Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

After Boston, Should We Revoke Student Visas?


Senator Rand Paul suggested in a letter to Harry Reid that we should.

But is that really a good idea? I don’t think so. Maybe I’m being idealistic, but I’d like to think that our student-visa program functions as a handy institutional goodwill ambassador of sorts. As the young elite of the world come to study here, prior to going back to rule their various nations, they get a taste of genuine American life, American freedoms, American people. Maybe the veil of ignorance about this nation that permeates so much of the world is lifted just a little. Maybe those students are less disposed to want to blow our innocent children to bits if they’ve had to look our little children in the eyes on the way to McDonald’s every weekend for four years.

Then again, that sort of cultural immersion didn’t help in the case of the Boston bombers. They were as Americanized as any terrorist could be. They attended American high schools and American colleges. Dzhokhar, the younger brother, set off a bomb with the sole intention of killing as many Americans as possible, then went to a party with some of his college buddies two days later. Nothing in his years’ worth of social interactions did a thing to lessen his hatred or his will to kill. Still, I hold out hope that, for most foreign students, especially among the ruling class elite who make up most of their number, giving them an opportunity to live in America can mean good things for America’s image an interest abroad in the years to come.

Anyway, as far as Senator Paul’s suggestion goes, freezing the student-visa program wouldn’t have changed anything in Boston, since both of the Tsarnaev brothers were permanent U.S. residents.


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