Shukri Ahmed Ali was ecstatic when she received a letter of acceptance in December to the elite Wellesley College in the American state of Massachusetts.
But Ali, 19, from Somaliland in the northwest of Somalia, worries she will not be able to attend Wellesley later this year because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s temporary visa ban, which was announced last week against Somalis and citizens of six other Muslim-majority countries.
“If Donald Trump extends the 90-day ban, I may not be able to get into the U.S. because Somalia is part of the seven countries that he banned,” Ali told VOA.
Ali is a student at the Abaarso School of Science and Technology, a secondary school on the outskirts of the Somaliland capital, Hargeisa, which has gained a reputation for sending its students to elite universities in America. The school regularly feeds Somali students to top American schools like Harvard and Yale universities.
Yet the visa ban has thrown the educational futures of Ali and dozens of her Abaarso classmates into uncertainty.
The ban has sparked confusion about who is allowed into America and who is not. The White House has said it may extend the ban or blacklist additional countries. On Friday, a federal judge issued a temporary hold on the ban, which the U.S. president has vowed to overturn.
The Trump administration says the ban is meant to protect Americans from foreign terrorists, but critics say it targets Muslims, an allegation Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly denied at a news conference this week. Kelly added that his agency’s mission “is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, our values.”
More than 17,000 university and graduate students from the seven banned countries attended school in the United States last school year, according to the Institute of International Education.