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An open letter to my fellow Americans (from an international student graduate now work visa holder)



Dear My Fellow Americans,

I know that you are dealing with many issues during this time, but there are critical issues underrepresented in the media that also need your immediate attention. I want you to be aware that while you were celebrating your Independence, your current political administration has decided that they also want you all to be independent from us: international students and workers in America.


It started from suspending visas for legal foreign-born workers, to deporting legal international students if their classes are online next semester in the midst of a global pandemic. However, unlike you, we don't have our families here we are all by ourselves. We are not entitled to unemployment benefits while we pay taxes just like you, and our time in the US is always ticking as we must enroll in school or have a job in order to stay legally in America (fun fact: our job has to be high-skilled and related to our major, so employment to us is much more selective than delivering your pizzas). If you care enough about us, please read along.


While I am writing this letter to you, there are more than one million international students who are at risk of having to leave the US, not having a place to go to, not being able to study online from their home country because legally international students cannot take more than three online credit hours per semester to maintain their visa status, and might leave the US for good. They have to figure all of these out while there was no advanced notice and travel restrictions are still effective. These are your friends, your classmates, your students, your consumers.


While I am writing this letter to you, there are also nearly six-hundred-thousand legal foreign-born workers in the US who are at risk of being deported for being laid-off or not being able to travel outside of the US indefinitely, even if they want to visit home, because they would not be able to attain visa renewal if they want to reenter the US. These are your friends, your colleagues, your employees, your consumers.


We join you in raising awareness about safety practices during the pandemic. We donate to your causes. We educate ourselves on American history and Black Lives Matter. We protest alongside with you. We support you on dismantling systemic racism, on LGBTQ+, on women's rights, and all that matter.


We are angry with you. We cry with you. We fight with you.


Now, the people who have been supporting your causes are at risk of being deported. These are your allies. You have seen our values, you have benefited from our contributions, so will you support us as we have been supporting you?


Unlike you, there is only so much that we can do to fight for our lives and our future in America when we are not American citizens. But, like you, we want America to be better.


WE ALL WANT TO LIVE THE AMERICAN DREAM AGAIN.


____________________________


What's happening:

  1. ‘Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Come’: U.S. Visa Changes Leave Students in Limbo: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/world/international-students-visa-reaction.html

  2. They Lost Their Jobs. Now They May Have to Leave the U.S: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/12/us/foreign-workers-visas-immigrants.html

Petitions to sign:

  1. WhiteHouse.gov: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/allow-international-students-finish-their-degrees?fbclid=IwAR3fZ3gvFH-n2n_8YcFy7QDkiAPKNvqS57vwJoh9M-6i1ex19O65ASZRAP0

  2. Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/united-states-immigration-and-customs-enforcement-allow-f-1-and-m-1-students-with-valid-visas-to-stay-in-the-united-states?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_23302904_en-US%3A1&recruiter=889164701&recruited_by_id=35e35520-87c8-11e8-a150-d18dc30e2c26&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_abi

There are some initial legal suits in the fight for international students to remain in the US; however, the policy has not changed and international students are still scrambling to figure out their exit plans. Meanwhile, there has been no further progress on supporting foreign-born workers in America.

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