International students found solace in the results of the presidential election but are still unsure of how foreign policy will change under the Biden-Harris administration.
Approaching the official certification of the election, international students are looking to the future and considering how this will impact them and their stay in the U.S.
The status of international students in the U.S. was put into question in July when the Trump administration announced international students could no longer remain in the U.S. if all their courses were online. That statement was rescinded shortly after, and international students were allowed to stay in the country while classes occurred remotely, but the order has still impacted international students.
Trump’s actions towards student and work visas struck fear into international students, creating a fragile state of their visas and their time in the U.S. One international student, Diego Alonso Calderón Collán from Peru, felt that between all of the candidates, “the only threat I could see myself facing is four more years of Trump.”
Since the election, the president of BYU’s Women of Color club Israel Kyeisha Selway from England explained she hopes to see a change of direction regarding international students and workers.
“I am hoping that it will mean that the most recent proposed change to work and student visas will not go through, ensuring more security and ease with the visa and I-20 process,” Selway said.
Isaac Morás-Guevara, an international student from Mexico, feels a weight lifted off his shoulders knowing that Joe Biden is the president-elect. “Honestly, I’m feeling less stressed now that Biden has won,” Morás explained.
Collán made it clear he does not feel he can really be relieved until Biden is in the office. “I won’t celebrate until Trump is technically defeated,” he said.
Though these students were relieved to hear about the victory of President-Elect Joe Biden, they still recognize there will be a need for improvement for international relations and minority groups.
“I still ignore how this will impact Mexico, but I am hopeful that the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico will improve once again,” Morás said. “I trust that his policies will bring America back to what it used to be: A land of fair opportunities for everybody who seeks honest growth.”
BYU Chinese Student and Scholar Association President Helena He settles with the idea that this will not be the perfect situation but hopes to see improvements that will uplift the world rather than just the U.S. He explained she hopes to see improvement “not just for the country, but for the whole world.”
“It’s important to remember that Biden and Harris are far from perfect. We have the safety that Trump will not be president going forward, but we still need to continue the work of activism, feminism, Black Lives Matter, etc. to make improvements for our communities and the most vulnerable among us,” Selway said.
Many international students come to the U.S. for opportunities in the education system. He came to the U.S. because she preferred the American secondary education system. Though she doesn’t feel the need to stay in the States, she would like to preserve the opportunity as a place to learn and gain experience.
“I definitely want to see that I gain some more work experience before I return to China,” He said.
However, leading up to the election international students found themselves stressed and anxious about who would win and how it would impact their experience in the U.S.
International students looked to each other for consolation and understanding during that time. “The elections got us really freaked out, and we didn’t have anywhere to go,” Collán said. He explained they looked to one another and found comfort from each other.
Selway said she only felt comfortable talking about the election with those in her close circle and is still cautious about talking about the election in front of her peers, “as there have been threats of violence towards my communities.” Though she feels safer expressing her opinions more openly now, she is still cautious around peers.