As the US prepares for Inauguration Day, international students have much to be thankful for. They are looking forward to a more inclusive, respectful environment under the Biden administration after four years of anti-immigration rhetoric and complications from Trump’s. President Joe Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021; millions are expected to watch the ceremony from their homes, including students. While it is an exciting time, what matters more is how the new government tackles its responsibilities. Here’s what three students had to say about their hopes beyond Inauguration Day:
Bipartisan perspective to international education
“I came to the US for the pursuit of higher education almost seven years ago. When I first arrived, I felt welcomed, supported, and valued for my contributions to the melting pot that is the US. However, over the past four years, I have felt increasingly more fearful that my education would be cut short due to circumstances beyond my control.
The US has always been the pinnacle of meritocratic achievement, drawing the smartest students from across the world. And as international students, we bring a diversity of thought and experience to the institutions and communities we are a part of. However, the last four years have shown us that our future in the US may not be as stable as we once thought. Moving forward, I hope that the need for and benefit of international students in the US are seen as a bipartisan issue, one that doesn’t deviate with political whim and that students globally can count on.”
- Azan Virji, Doctor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Friendlier immigration policies
“I’m just glad that ex-Veep Biden won the election, and I believe that many international students like me feel relieved. I expect his government to repeal the restrictions on international students that are imposed by the Trump administration (e.g., H1B etc.) To be honest I literally planned to go to another country for graduate studies if President Trump was to be re-elected.
I’m excited to hear that the Biden administration plans to grant permanent residence to STEM PhDs, though I’m not entirely sure if Economics is considered as a STEM major … I’m glad overall that restrictive immigration policies under Trump are likely to be cancelled, I wouldn’t have to worry about my student visa status and I am excited to have more access to employment opportunities. Policies change in the US rapidly though, and a new President in 2024 (since President-elect Biden claimed that he does not seek a second term) could change everything again. I’m only a sophomore so things may become very different when I graduate from graduate school.”
- Aiqi Sun, Bachelor of Science, University of North Carolina
Narrow the gap on growing inequality
“I was isolated to my apartment for the better part of last year, a bubble within the larger bubble of my university campus. So I was not necessarily tapped into the sociopolitical atmosphere on the ground, especially so for places that lean Trump. Given that, what happened was still not surprising at all.
This is because having grown up in Malaysia (as well as generally following international politics) I am used to politicians using any and all means, such as harnessing the grievances of his supporters to incite violence for political goals, and very early in his presidency, it was clear Trump was cut from that cloth. My hope is that the Democrats fail to be their usual ineffectual selves and actually solve the growing inequality (the grievance) so that the next Trump cannot use it for the next insurrection, especially since countries tend towards authoritarianism during pandemics.”
- Wong Soong Kit, PhD in Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison