Wed | Aug 12, 2020

Jamaican students relieved as Trump scraps deportation threat

Published:Wednesday | July 15, 2020 | 12:29 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer

The decision by the Trump administration not to go forward with deporting international students who do not attend in-person classes has been welcomed by the Jamaican community as well as students studying in the United States.

Chelsea Wright, a junior at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, said that she and other Jamaicans were relieved.

“It means that I can now attend classes for the fall, whether the pandemic gets worse. The fact that this rule was made in the first instance shows that we are at the mercy of the administration,” she said.

Wright, who grew up in Spanish Town, St Catherine, and is studying industrial engineering and business and statistics, said she no longer has to fear being deported.

She further pointed out that besides the threat from the administration, she has also been affected by the coronavirus pandemic in other ways.

“I no longer have my on-campus job as well as my internship,” she said.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Wright said that even though she is grateful for the decision, international students were still facing an uncertain future.

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that international students who would not attend in-person classes would have their visas rescinded and face deportation. This prompted fear within international student communities as to their fate given that schools were unsure of reopening because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than one million international students would have been affected if the administration had gone ahead with its plan to annul visa privileges.

The announcement by the administration prompted several lawsuits, including by MIT and Harvard.

Seventeen states also filed their own lawsuits against the decision. A number of major corporations, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and the American Chamber of Commerce, also took legal action.

Global Jamaican Diaspora Council Member for the Northeast region, Dr Karren Dunkley, herself an educator, said she was elated that the government had pulled back.

“The rule posed a dilemma for many of our students who would face deportation if it was enforced. I am relieved that they will be able to remain in the United States while pursuing their studies without jeopardising their health,” she said.

She said that the country must deliver on its promise of an education for all students.

Marie Bell, a lecturer at Munroe College in New York, said that while the initial decision appeared to have been designed to force colleges and universities into returning to onsite classes in the fall, it was announced without careful and humane consideration.

“The decision not only threatened the continuity of their education but also had tremendous financial implications,” said Bell.