International students react to the upcoming presidential election


As the presidential elections approach, international students express concern over potential changes in immigration policies.

Cherry Tran

As the U.S. presidential election approaches, international students at Iowa State are anticipating the outcome. 

Jidong Sun, a senior in computer engineering, said the stress of packed on regulations adds onto additional stress international students face and either candidate would put the interest of American students before international students, but Donald Trump will have stricter immigration policies.

“Whatever happens in November, it will definitely make an impact on the international students here,” Sun said. “Trump made the immigration outlook for international students unclear. There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

According to the Iowa State Office of Institutional Research, international students from 119 countries made up 9.6 percent of total enrollment at Iowa State in 2019.

Immigration policy changes impact many international students and some are worried about their status. 

“Whatever decisions the [future president] makes, in a way it’ll affect international students,” said Chandrachur Sengupta, a senior in industrial technology. “At the end of the day we are living here. If Trump gets reelected, international students will have a harder time.”

Despite many student’s worries about Trump’s reelection and how that’ll affect international students, some students feel it won’t matter which candidate will get elected. 

“I don’t think it matters which [candidate] is going to be elected, because both candidates don’t make decisions by themselves,” said Yanglong Wang, a junior in philosophy.

In July, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stated international students in the U.S. would be unable to enter or remain in the country if their classes were to be conducted online. The situation sent international students into panic, according to Sun. 

“We saw in the summer how ICE was saying if classes are all online, we [international students] can’t really come back,” Sun said. “That was overturned obviously, but there’s just a lot of that fluctuation where people can’t really prepare for.”

Sengupta said even though international students like himself are here legally via valid student visas, it was still scary. 

Many international students are turning away from the U.S. to seek higher education elsewhere.  

International students make up 5.5 percent of the U.S.’ college population, a 0.05 percent increase from 2018, reported by the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. However, incoming international student enrollment is projected to decline by 63 percent to 98 percent, according to the National Foundation for American Policy 

“[International students] can just go to countries that are easier for them to get in to get their education,” Sengupta said. “There are so many other options, much better options compared to the U.S.”

However, there are international students who want to continue their education in the U.S. without worrying about obstacles that prevent them from doing so. 

“All [international students] can do is hope whichever presidential candidate that gets elected will do collective good for the whole and the community here,” Sengupta said.