UNL international student reacts to new ICE directive

Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 6:50 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as “ICE”, announced Monday that international students studying at universities here in the U.S. will be forced to leave the country if their universities make the switch to online-only classes this fall.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln plans to be back in the classroom this fall, but different colleges around the Nation are making other plans. Some are choosing to meet solely online, which will cause problems for international students on F-1 visas, also referred to as student visas.

More than 3,000 students enrolled at UNL are international. One of them is Sushant Timalsina.

Timalsina was born and raised in Nepal, a country in south Asia. A little over three years ago, he came to the U.S. and is now going into his senior year at UNL, pursuing a degree in agricultural economics.

Timalsina shouldn't be affected by the decision if classes resume in-person, but it's a move he used words like "bombarded" and "scared" to describe.

"It's a negative message you're sending that we don't welcome international students, and if we do, you'll live in uncertainty. It's like you don't have a home here," Timalsina tells 10/11.

Even though in-person classes are set to take place beginning in August at UNL, Timalsina still has many concerns.

Between possibly having to pay for an overseas plane ticket and not earning his degree, Timalsina tells 10/11 right now, he's not very optimistic.

After he graduates, he plans to continue his education here in the U.S. by getting his masters degree and PhD. Now, there’s a sense that may not be possible given this new directive.

“What if I don’t complete [my degree] because I’m home. What about the time difference? What if I can’t complete the coursework? What if because I’m quarantined, the internet service is not that good because people are not from the developed parts of the country?” asks Timalsima.

He says many of his friends, who are fellow international students, say they feel unheard and unsafe, “Why would they send us back in the middle of a pandemic? That’s a crazy question, but let’s address the elephant in the room. Why would you send somebody out into their country when there’s the COVID-19 situation?”

Timalsina tells 10/11 it's a stressful situation, and he would have appreciated more time to plan, in case he does have to return home. Two of his worries are about his safety if he's forced to travel back home and the fact that he may not receive his degree.

Right now, Timalsina and many other international students are signing online petitions going against ICE’s new directive. Harvard and MIT are now suing the Trump administration to protect student visas.

UNL Chancelor Ronnie Green tweeted out, saying UNL is committed to supporting its international students, adding that he appreciates the contributions and diversity they bring to the campus.

Copyright 2020 KOLN. All rights reserved.

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