Ripples of University Protests in US Felt by Parents in India

Ripples of University Protests in US Felt by Parents in India

Ripples of University Protests in US Felt by Parents in India

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The anxious parents explained that they had instructed their kids to avoid the pro-Palestine demonstrations that have been taking place in foreign campuses out of concern for their safety, difficulties renewing their visas, and even deportation.

11 May 2024

By Khushi Maheshwari

Anxiety is spreading to India as a result of the violent student protests in the US over Israel’s activities in Gaza, which prompted police action at Columbia University and rival group fights at the University of California. Over 25% of the more than one million international students studying in the US are Indian students, according to the US State Department’s Open Doors Report.

Parents are calling their children studying in the United States and advising them to avoid getting involved after hearing about the arrest and expulsion of a student of Indian descent from Princeton University. Education counsellors report that they are receiving worried calls from students who have been admitted to the US but are now reconsidering their choices.

Since classes have shifted online, several parents have urged their children to return home to India out of concern for their safety and the possibility of deportation should they be discovered to be involved in the protests.

A parent from Mumbai remarked that he has warned his daughter not to take part in the pro-Palestine protests at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where the demonstrations turned violent and resulted in multiple arrests. He said that in spite of how much his daughter agrees with the cause, he has asked her to stay out of it since the stakes and risks are too high, being so far away from home.

Parents and students are reluctant to take chances, even though there have been no instances of arrested foreign students being deported or having their visa status changed thus far. This is especially true in light of a Republican Senator’s recent advocacy that these students’ visas should be “revoked.” Another parent of a Columbia University student is considering asking their daughter to return to India if things do not improve, as they watch the chaos play out halfway around the globe.

The first college to receive extensive media coverage was Columbia University in New York, where a number of students were detained for peaceful protests by the local police.

An F-1 visa is issued to international students in the US, and it is only good for the duration of the student’s studies in the country. Indian parents are concerned that if their children are detained, their visas may be cancelled and they may be sent back to India. Furthermore, if they are arrested, a criminal record could make it more difficult for them to apply for an H1B work visa, which allows them to stay in the country after graduation.