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Colleges Oppose Collecting Fee to Assist INS

March 22, 2000

A number of colleges and universities, including the University of California and the California Community Colleges, are lining up in opposition to an obscure new anti-terrorist rule proposed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service requiring schools to collect fees from foreign students.

The fee would pay for an electronic database on international students nationwide, replacing the current paper system. It would allow for easier tracking of such students, said INS spokeswoman Elaine Komis.

Although Komis said the new system will be less cumbersome, educators who work with international students say it will place an unreasonable burden on institutions charged with administering the fees. The proposal, moreover, is at odds with the role of universities, which act as advocates for international students, not regulators, they contend.

Directors of international student programs and university leaders, including UC President Richard C. Atkinson, have written letters of opposition to the INS.

"We don't want to be a bill collector or policeman for the government," said Dixon C. Johnson, executive director of the office of international services at USC.

"It's a pretty awful thing," agreed Elena Garate, dean of international education at Santa Monica College. "I feel very passionately about it."

Komis said the INS is in the process of reviewing comments, and a decision is pending.

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