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Visas Not Accepted

The Feb. 5 article entitled “Proposed Visa Ban Mobilizes Students” quotes Middle Eastern Club President Mehdi Yahyanejad’s objection to the new restriction on the granting of visas to people from countries that sponsor terrorism: “This bill makes everyone from certain nations guilty until proven innocent.” This comment misappropriates a famous concept that many people in this country consider to be a natural law of fairness for use in a context in which it does not belong.

“Guilt” and “innocence” only apply to governmental actions in the sense that a government may use an individual’s guilt as a justification to deprive that person of rights that any innocent person is entitled to. Crossing a border into a foreign country in order to reap the benefits of that country’s unique qualities, however, is not a right to which people are entitled, but a privilege that governments may grant as they see fit. In order to obtain this (or any) privilege, it makes sense for people to have to prove their worthiness of it, and to remain presumed unworthy (not “guilty”) until proven worthy. In addition, the government has every right (not to mention responsibility) to restrict this privilege in ways that are expected to protect the safety and security of its country’s inhabitants.

I would suggest that opponents of the new rule concentrate their efforts on proposing ways to demonstrate that specific students’ entries into this country do not constitute threats to national security instead of trying to convince people that this is a case of deprivation of rights.

Isaac Moses ’03