Sending international students home during the pandemic will do lasting harm, not least to America’s reputation
I came to the United States as an international student in August 2002, a month short of the first anniversary of 9/11. I came from and to privilege: I was fully funded and had family in the States. Most importantly, even as the Bush administration tightened scrutiny of international students, I arrived to a welcoming place and people, and have loved being here ever since.
Even so, an announcement like the one from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) requiring international students to leave the US if their campuses went fully online would have chilled me to the core. There was no pandemic back then, but my closest family was already in the US, and I had no source of income in my home country. I was lucky; with help from my family, I could have covered the costs of travel and broken leases. But at that time before the internet, I would have effectively been cut off from my program of study. Most importantly, I would have missed out on the fundamental experience of being, physically and mentally, in the United States.