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Immigrants may face new challenges

Legally compliant South Carolina immigrants and visa holders may find that the changing social and political climate in the U.S. presents them with unique problems. Following terrorist actions in California and France, individuals who hold the correct documentation have been stopped from entering the country without being given justification. More than 20 British families with Muslim members or ties were denied entry in late December.

In one reported incident, 20 students who had already been granted F-1 student visas for California universities were stopped when they tried to land in the U.S. at Chicago. They were then forced to board planes and return to India even though they had the correct I-20 forms from the universities attesting that they had been admitted. Some alleged that they had been subjected to interrogation by authorities and mistreated.

Another 19 students from India were stopped from flying to San Francisco to attend Fremont's Northwestern Polytechnic and San Jose's Silicon Valley University, the same schools that the other 20 students had been en route to attend. Although some authorities said that these institutions were under investigation, the schools claimed that they weren't being singled out for special attention. Analysts say that the increased state of immigration caution reflects the fact that some terrorists in prior incidents entered the country on seemingly valid visas.

People's quests for immigration visas or citizenship may be hindered by circumstances beyond their control. When politicians and lawmakers attempt to bolster national security, their efforts can impact those who have done nothing wrong or who already completed the steps they legally should have gone through to gain entry. Immigrants may want to meet with an attorney and learn about their legal rights and obligations in the event that their status gets challenged.

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