OPINION: ICE ruling piles more stress on an already difficult situation for international students

The International Student Center provides a common home for international students. (Archive Photo by John Chapple | Collegian Media Group)

International Students were taken by shock after the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency released a bombshell announcement about student visa regulation.

According to ICE, international students studying in the U.S. will have to leave the country should their universities choose to move classes online for the fall semester. International students may also face deportations, should they decide to stay in the U.S.

This announcement is extremely saddening and disparaging for international students. Currently, we are all collectively dealing with the coronavirus crisis across the world as global lockdowns and travel bans are implemented.

In this chaotic situation, the U.S. government is now telling international students to leave the country because of something they can’t control. The pandemic is becoming an increasingly depressing and dangerous nightmare for international students, and that is not due to the threat of the virus — it is because of the heartless policies introduced against international students.

First, let’s talk about the contributions international students make to the U.S. According to the Institute of International Education, the US has over one million international students studying here. International students bring millions of dollars in investments and fundings to institutions in this country as we are among the country’s highest tuition fee payers, paying twice or thrice as much as a local student, without being qualified for any federal or national aids and grants.

International students who do part-time work on campus in any capacity pay taxes here. The research that international students perform at universities helps develop the educational environment at various universities. According to NAFSA, international students contribute $41 billion to the U.S. economy and create and support nearly 500,000 jobs.

Almost a quarter of U.S. billion-dollar startups have a founder who came to the United States as an international student. From Elon Musk to Sundar Pichai, multiple silicon valley CEOs were international students. Even Hollywood celebrities like Kunal Nayyar and Lupita Nyong’o were international students.

It doesn’t stop there. An international student from Taiwan who studied at Kansas State invented the N95 mask — one of the primary lines of defense used to stop the spread of COVID-19. Peter Tsai actually came out of retirement this spring to help scientists find a way to decontaminate masks to prevent further shortages of the much needed personal protective equipment.

From the world of science, technology and maths to the universe of entertainment, international students everywhere are soaring high and achieving great accolades. Attacking international students, and threatening our presence in this country will bring the nation more losses than gains.

International students achieve such high success, yet we are always looked down upon. Even on campuses across the nation, we are treated as secondary citizens.

International students have to struggle a lot to make it to the United States, and it is not easy for us to come here. Over the past few years, U.S. immigration laws have become stricter, and the overwhelming anti-immigrant sentiment in the country has left hundreds if not thousands of talented students with no other choice, but to attend universities in other countries. Those of us here — who love this country, and love the opportunities that the U.S. has to offer — are now seeing our goals of living out the American Dream crumbling.

This global pandemic issue is now being used as a political propaganda tool by anti-immigration politicians and governmental agencies. False rhetorics are being used to target the immigrant community and international students. A few weeks ago, the U.S. government also announced the suspension of temporary work visas to skilled immigrant workers.

This week, the government announced additional policies that will affect international students in the U.S. Introducing these policies is borderline xenophobic on the part of the government. These policies give out the vibes that maybe this country is, unfortunately, closing its doors to dreamers who are yearning to breathe free.

Over the past few weeks, international students have been extremely stressed due to the ongoing pandemic coupled with harsh new immigration regulations. The already stressed international students are now losing their sleep, peace and mindfulness due to strict rules being imposed on us in the middle of a chaotic and destructive global pandemic.

Already numerous students abroad who were planning on coming to the U.S. in the fall are unable to make it here. On top of it, the new visa rules are making life a living hell for international students already present in the country.

We are anxious about our future and our lives. The decisions made by the U.S. government right now directly impact our lives. Therefore, it is paramount that our American counterparts stand by us and support us in this crisis. We are in pain, we are hurt and we need your help.

Politician Norm Coleman once said, “America has a strategic interest in continuing to welcome international students at our colleges, universities, and high schools. Attracting the world’s top scientific scholars helps to keep our economy competitive.”

Getting rid of international students is bad for both the international community as well as the American economy.

International students come to these western shores with a dream. A dream of living the life that they always wanted to. A vision of learning new things and becoming globally inclusive leaders. Our experiences in the U.S. have made us better people. We love this country, and we adore the opportunities that the U.S. has to offer. We know the potential that we have to make this country great! Please do not shatter our dreams so inhumanely & hinder America’s progress.

Vedant Deepak Kulkarni is a Collegian contributor and a senior in management information systems and mass communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.