Talented, Yet Seen With Suspicion

Surveillance of International Students and Scholars in the United States





international student security, higher education, foreign students, immigration policy, policy


The attacks of September 11, 2001, put terrorism at the forefront of the American political landscape. Donald Trump played into these fears of terrorism through his political rhetoric during his presidency, particularly targeting international students as “threats” to the nation. However, we argue that the labeling of international students as security threats was not started after 9/11 nor invented by Trump. Through historical records and accounts across decades of policies related to this issue, we seek to answer two questions: How has the U.S. government monitored visa policies and programs for international students? How have U.S. national policies evolved to view international students as national security threats? We find that mistrust of this population has been embedded throughout U.S. immigration history and that federal tracking policies emerged incrementally from long-held security concerns. We discuss why the entire population of international students should not be scapegoated due to fear.

Author Biographies

Ryan Allen, Chapman University

Ryan M. Allen, PhD, is an assistant professor at Chapman University’s Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies and Coordinator of the joint doctoral program with Shanghai Normal University. His research centers on the politics of publishing, institutional decision-making, the globalization of education, EdTech, and the East Asian region. E-mail: ryanmallen555@gmail.com

Krishna Bista, Morgan State University

Krishna Bista, EdD, is the Founding Editor of the Journal of International Students and a Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership and Policy at Morgan State University. E-mail: krishna.bista@morgan.edu


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How to Cite

Allen, R., & Bista, K. (2021). Talented, Yet Seen With Suspicion: Surveillance of International Students and Scholars in the United States. Journal of International Students, 12(1), 175–194. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v12i1.3410



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