Yemeni Students In Limbo

Emma Brown writes in the WashPost:

“Taima Aliriani, 17, center, with friends at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale on Feb. 7. Aliriani is from Yemen and hopes to stay in the United States. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)
They left their families in Yemen nearly three years ago through an exchange program that aimed to introduce Muslim high school students from overseas to America. But when civil war broke out at home, they couldn’t return, and what was supposed to be a 10-month visit turned into an indefinite stay.

Now the State Department — which sponsored the program and has supported these two dozen students since they arrived in 2014 — has notified them that they’ll be on their own in a few months.

For these Yemeni students, most of them thousands of miles away from their nearest relatives, that means no more housing or living stipends, and no more community-college tuition aid. Perhaps most important, it also means no more student visas. That will leave many of them facing the prospect of losing their legal status as visitors at a time when President Trump has pledged heightened immigration enforcement.

“I don’t only have to look for a place to stay and a way to pay for myself and a way to pay for my education, but now I also have to worry about racism and legal status,” said Taima Aliriani, 17, who graduated from high school in Indiana and is now at Northern Virginia Community College. “I applied for asylum, but right now I feel like I’m probably not going to get it.”

Aliriani is one of six Yemeni exchange students who were trapped here by their country’s civil war and are now at NOVA. Six others are at community colleges in Wisconsin, and a dozen are studying in Washington state.

Last month, a week after he took office, Trump signed an executive order that barred refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Yemen was one of them.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has temporarily blocked enforcement of the order, but the new administration’s push to bar citizens of those nations has terrified many Muslims, including the Yemeni exchange students who wonder what is next for them.”