International students talk upcoming election, Trump immigration policies


Graphic by Jacob Fulton

International students talk about difficulties and uncertainties under the Trump administration.

Rayna Song, Reporter

With Election Day just five days away, international students at Northwestern say re-electing President Donald Trump poses a threat to their futures.

In July, the Trump administration announced — and then revoked — a directive that would have prevented international students with online-only classes from remaining in the country. More recently, policies targeting international students could limit the amount of time they can remain in the United States after graduation.

Weinberg sophomore Mandy Chen said Trump’s policies have made trips between home in Shenzhen, China and the U.S. difficult. A current travel ban on China means Chen would need to spend 14 days in a third country before arriving on campus.

“There is no sense of security, and the rules change every day,” Chen said. “Literally anything can happen.”

While Chen cannot vote, she supports former Vice President Joe Biden due to Trump’s hostile comments toward China and Chinese people.

Trump has repeatedly referred to the novel coronavirus as the “China virus,” and Chen believes his xenophobic comments have provoked physical and verbal attacks against Asian Americans. Because of this, Chen said she and many other Chinese students feel unsafe in certain regions of the United States.

Communication sophomore Jared Son, who has family in Seongnam, South Korea, said he is standing with Joe Biden and the Democratic Party this presidential election. Son, who describes himself as a progressive liberal, said Joe Biden is not the perfect candidate, but he would be a better choice than a conservative like Trump.

“(Trump) has repeatedly shown to be sexist and racist and misogynist on television, and also enforcing policies against people like the LGBTQ community and cutting funding for nationwide health care,” Son said.

Son is a U.S. citizen, but he said many of his international friends are scared that their student visas might get canceled if Trump gets re-elected.

McCormick senior Chengye Jiang, from Shanghai, China, said he is supporting Biden because of how Trump handled the pandemic.

“I support Joe Biden, just because he is not Trump,” Jiang said. “Chicago just issued a new lockdown… I think it is totally his fault, and he could have been doing something better.”

Jiang is set to graduate this spring. He said the Trump administration has tightened foreign work visa requirements. Trump also proposed a new regulation in September that could potentially cut down the timeframe to apply for a work permission after graduation.

The application process is already very complicated, and the Trump administration could make staying in the United States after his studies even more difficult, Jiang added.

This uncertainty about the future is echoed by other international students, including underclassmen who still have years of study at Northwestern.

“I am really nervous about the upcoming election,” Chen said. “In the past, presidential elections in the United States did not really affect me, but this time, it is going to impact my life.”

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