Some of Westminster College’s 121 international students said they have been negatively impacted since President Donald Trump’s administration began in January 2016.
Because of the administration’s travel ban issued in January on refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, some international students said they’re concerned about leaving the United States — even if the ban did not directly target their home countries.
“I can’t imagine going to Italy for Christmas and not being able to come back,” said Sara D’Agostino, a junior finance major from Italy. “My education, friends, job and basically my entire life are in the U.S.”
Italy wasn’t included in the ban, but D’Agostino said she’s now concerned about whether her visa may be revoked for any reason.
Charchit Dahal, a junior computer science major from Nepal, also said he is afraid of losing everything he’s built in the United States if he chooses to go home.
“My life here — everything I’ve built here — would be gone,” he said.
A California federal appeals court on Nov. 14 allowed Trump’s travel ban to go into partial effect, temporarily blocking travelers from Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Chad from entering the United States.
But Dahal said he has canceled multiple international trips because of his confusion about what might happen if he leaves the U.S.
“I was planning on going to Canada with a friend, but because entering and re-entering is skeptical at this time, I canceled that trip,” he said.
Alison Vasquez, Westminster’s director of international student services and study abroad, said international students have come to her over the past year with challenging questions about leaving the United States.
Sometimes, she said she’s not sure how to advise them — so she just tells them about the potential risks of going home.
“I think that the biggest thing they’ve expressed is just uncertainty,” Vasquez said. “There’s just a lot of uncertainty.”
Bardhi Ballata, a sophomore finance major from Kosovo, said he hasn’t left the United States since Trump’s administration began and hasn’t faced any major challenges yet. Though his visa is valid for two more years, Ballata said he is concerned about the uncertainty about international travel policies.
“I’ve been kind of worried that if I go home and I try to come back into the U.S., I could be stopped,” he said.
Despite the many challenges and uncertainties that have arisen this past year, Dahal said he would still advise international students who might consider studying in the U.S. to come — even if that caused them to separate from their family.
“Studying computer science in the United States and getting a job in that field is much better than Nepal,” Dahal said. “The education system and job market are flourishing much more than Nepal.”