International College Students Return to the Valley with Trump, Immigration Fears Top of Mind

Published: 09/14/2017


On his first trip back to Madrid after November’s election, Miguel Lepoutre’s family itched for details. He recalls one incessant question, in particular: What is it like now that Trump is president?

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“Everyone in Europe is just freaking out,” Lepoutre says. “They can’t believe it’s real.”

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Lepoutre is an international student at San Jose State University (SJSU), where he is majoring in environmental studies. His grandfather, who grew up during the Franco dictatorship in Spain, worries that his grandson’s new home will undergo the same fate as his country, noting parallels between the new administration and previous fascist regimes.

“He was asking me if I felt a change in people and society in general,” Lepoutre says. “And I told him, ‘Yeah, I really did. People are really angry.’”

His family isn’t the first to identify similarities between the rise of Donald Trump and the regimes of Hitler, Stalin and Franco, and they aren’t the only ones worried about relatives studying abroad in the United States. News of the travel ban, rising hate crimes and last week’s rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order have damaged the country’s reputation as an academic haven.

As the Trump administration calls for the deportation of nearly 800,000 DACA recipients who have studied and worked here most of their lives, it’s no surprise that international students—who only recently arrived in the U.S.—are questioning their own future in this country.


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