Profiling Foreign Students is Rational and Legitimate

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Profiling Foreign Students is Rational and Legitimate Sixty years ago, the United States placed Japanese-, German-, and Italian-Americans in internment camps. Our country has also excluded people of various nationalities simply because we didn't like "their kind." The government's scrutiny of Middle Eastern students in response to September 11 has thus evoked acute suspicions and fears that the Hollywood scenario in "The Siege" will become a reality. Others are concerned that even if internment is a remote possibility, the recent heightened attention toward a group of foreign students amounts to racial profiling. These fears are perfectly reasonable but, thankfully, unsupported by what has happened thus far. As much as Americans today insist on treating people as individuals, there are some regrettable circumstances in which grouping has legitimate purposes. The Supreme Court has recognized the necessity of grouping by subjecting "inherently suspect" classifications like race to a standard of "strict scrutiny," while letting classifications with a reasonable purpose pass with "intermediate scrutiny." Fundamentally, the Court asks whether there is a "rational basis" for a government policy that treats a particular group of people differently. In its recent treatment of foreign students, the government has demonstrated a "rational basis" for measures that group people to meet a pressing state interest while minimizing the violation to individuals' dignity. Without casting aspersions on the people and the culture of the region, we cannot deny that the Middle East is a hotbed of fanaticism. Thousands of militants have been indoctrinated by calls for the violent destruction of entire gr... ... middle of paper ... ...ent has presumed no guilt for the students it has sought records on, and it has neither publicized their names nor allowed universities to notify them because doing so would unduly arouse unnecessary fears of persecution. Educating foreign students is an important instrument of American foreign policy. Foreign students act as dual ambassadors, fostering better understanding between the citizens of their countries of origin and those of the United States. They bring elements of their culture to America while taking elements of our culture home to their societies. However, we must remember that this enlightened policy is open to abuse. Recent government actions with regard to foreign students amount not to racial profiling, but rather to plugging the holes in the system so that we may continue this valuable cultural and educational exchange program.

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