Questions of xenophobia cause disquiet among international students

racism-and-xenophobiaIncreasing xenophobia in the United States is being cited as one of the factors that have given Donald Trump a victory that was unexpected and proved most pollsters wrong. His rant against foreigners has heightened concerns among foreigner’s especially international students, many of whom come from China. Most of these students have availed of expensive loans and have hoped that the provisions of being able to work in the US after their studies would enable them to clear the loans that they have taken. These students are now hoping that the strident statements made by the President elect will only be electoral rhetoric and will not really translate to ground reality in the long run. Based on my experience of my experience as an international student here is my reading of how things could pan out.

China’s rise as a global economic power has always been a cause of concern in America, and many citizens feel that this has come about at the cost of American jobs. Donald Trump has been one of those hardliners who not only believes that China has been dumping cheap goods in the country that has not only damaged to the economy but also cost job losses and hardship for the working class in the country. ON the campaign trail, he has only several occasions, threatened to impose protectionist tariffs on Chinese goods as a measure to counter such imports. Another charge has been that the Yuan, the official currency of China, has been artificially propped up by the government to ensure that their goods remain competitive. AS a reaction the Chinese authorities have already begun to quietly devalue its currency to cushion any possible action by the Americans. This devaluation could have a potential impact on the Chinese students as their loans will now work out to be more expensive.

The immediate impact of the president elects policies will certainly affect immigrants, especially the illegal ones who will be a target of action. However the impact will not be as visible or significant  for international students who are anyways , unlike in other English speaking countries like Australia and New Zealand, not allowed to work off campus and is not real a threat to American jobs. On the contrary, international students contribute massively to not only the national economy but also to the local economies.

Nevertheless, international students have a genuine reason to be concerned about tone and tenor of Trump’s threats that is not new or recent-his protectionist beliefs and intent has been aired by him for over a year in various forums and there is nothing here that says that this is only rhetoric. Polarizing posters have appeared on college campuses, which together with rallies and instances of conflict among groups with divergent views have only served to heighten the concern and anxiety among these students. The next few months will be critical and every move and statement of the president elect will be closely watched for any indication on how all this gets translated on the ground.

Sue J Liu –

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