By Ana Carolina Aguiar
2020 has been a year filled with complex issues, including decisions made by the U.S. government that could be life-changing for many immigrants and international students, one of which was the decision to prohibit any foreign nationals from travelling to the U.S. if they had been in certain countries during the pandemic, including Brazil, the United Kingdom, and China.
This made it impossible for some Barry international students to come back to the U.S. to start the Fall semester.
Another pressing issue for international students is the increase of application fees for immigration and naturalization benefit requests starting this October.
As the Nov. 3 presidential election approaches, concerns about government policy are harvested within Barry University’s 354 international students who represent 63 different countries.
Although these students are unable to vote in the election, they have much to say about the current government and how it can be improved.
For example, while junior Psychology major Michelle Lozada from the Dominican Republic does not identify herself with Trump or Biden, she notes that immigration policies are key when thinking about the future of the country.
According to Lozada, in the Dominican Republic, there are many immigrants who contribute positively to the nation, due to its pro-immigration policies. She believes the United States President needs to consider the value of immigrants when creating immigration policies.
“Immigrants can [lend] a helping hand to the economy and development of any nation,” said Lozada, who cites Sillicon Valley, California as a prime example.
“Silicon Valley, home to one of the largest concentrations of venture capital, is filled with companies that were started by immigrants, companies that provide employment to society, and that diversify and improve [the] American economy,” said Lozada.
In Lozada’s opinion, the United States maintains a “win-win relationship” with immigrants and the next president should ensure that this continues.
Tara Marinkovic, a senior finance major from Serbia, seconds this. Marinkovic has had a “great experience” as an international student at Barry and hopes whoever is elected continues to develop this exchange.
Citing a 2019 Open Doors report from the International Educational Exchange (IEE), Marinkovic notes that there were more than 1 million international college students in the United States in the 2018-19 academic year. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students contributed $44.7 billion to the U.S. Economy in 2018.
“Both [the] U.S. and international students have benefits from this program,” says Marinkovic.
In addition, Marinkovic hopes that the elected candidate expands job opportunities for international students.
However, Barry’s international students from Venezuela have very different views of the U.S. government, a government which criticizes the regime of President Nicolás Maduro while wanting support from Venezuelans both in the United States and in Venezuela.
Javier Bracho, a senior Psychology student from Venezuela, believes the upcoming elections will be a tragedy if people do not vote based on their personal values.
“This administration has been nothing short of a clown fiesta and a scandal after scandal,” said Bracho. “I hope people vote with their values and not for their ‘team.’”
Bracho’s comment is a result of his desire to gear away from “these times of division and lack of leadership” and turn toward peace and progress. This, he believes, would be done with the leadership of Joe Biden, the candidate Bracho says he would vote for if he could.
Biden’s administration plans to address issues such as strengthening economic protections for low-income workers in manufacturing and fast food industries and adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act. Biden also promises to modernize America’s immigrant system and welcome immigrants into American communities.
President Trump has enforced immigration laws to protect American communities and jobs. With plans to continue this work, Trump plans to block illegal immigrants from becoming eligible for Taxpayer-Funded welfare, healthcare, and free college tuition. These intentions and others are listed on his campaign website.
“Joe Biden is the better choice [because] his administration will bring progress and peace to the current turmoil caused by the lack of leadership and division caused by this administration,” said Bracho.
Regardless of their standpoint, Barry’s international students are very invested in the outcome of the upcoming elections, as the candidate who prevails could change their academic lives in unprecedented ways.