Fear of the immigration ban causes excess stress to students
Vianney Casas was at home waiting for a text from her mom to say she had successfully entered the U.S. The reply she got wasn’t the happy news she was looking for. Her visa had been denied.
“Everything happened in the middle of the night,” Casas said. “My mom called me and she was crying so hard, I couldn’t even understand her — she was so mad.”
Now a year later, Casas’ mother still hasn’t been able to visit her daughter, and with the new immigration ban, it’s looking less and less likely. Casas’ sister is now the only other family member who has citizenship in the U.S. and is able to cross the border to visit her. But her sister feels guilty leaving her mother behind.
Trump’s immigration ban would affect seven predominantly Muslim countries, as well as visa holders inside and outside the United States. Since Trump signed the executive order, there have been multiple ICE raids causing fear and panic among students worried for their family, friends and fellow peers.
“I am a citizen I am trying to get [my mother] papers so that she can come to my graduation. But because of what is happening now in the U.S. with our president, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be hard or impossible to do that,” Casas said. “It has just affected me mentally and emotionally.”
Casas often feels sad and lacks the energy to go on with her day-to-day life because she is aware her mother may never be able to see the life she’s built, and the dreams she’s achieving in San Francisco.
“I didn’t have any energy, I couldn’t really eat, I would lay in bed all day,” Casas said. “If my mom can’t see my success, then it really isn’t worth it.”
Multiple students besides Casas have felt emotional and psychological side effects from current events regarding immigration.
Larry Salomon, an ethnic studies lecturer at SF State, has come to notice the negative effects stress has caused his students balancing both school and their personal home life.
“I have many students who are seriously anxious over what they’ve seen play out from the campaign and now the first month of Trump’s regime,” Salomon said.
“For them, these are not just academic or theoretical issues, for them and their families, the worries about ICE raids and deportations — and the overall anti-immigrant sentiment — are very real,” Salomon said.
While some students worry about the possible deportation of friends and family, other students are afraid for themselves.
A Berkeley City College student, currently here on an F-1 visa who asked to remain anonymous, is worried that having their name published will put their green card application at risk.
“Coming from Europe, we were never really concerned about the ban, but now we are really nervous because he actually did it for certain countries,” said the anonymous international student. “We are very nervous about his next move — it’s clear now he has power and that this is really happening.”
The F-1 visa student, originally from Belgium, has lived in America for approximately three years. The student and their partner currently live in the East Bay and are in the process of trying to make their residency permanent, but they expressed concern with Trump’s new rules and how that will impact their future here.
Jeff Cookston, psychology associate professor at SF State, realizes that stress and the symptoms that come with that stress, is expected among students during this time.
“People are clearly stressed out, and that obviously makes dealing with everyday life work and school responsibilities so much more difficult,” Cookston said. “Common reactions to stress include frustration, anger, anxiety, nervousness, and feelings of depression.”
Casas felt that living in the U.S. after President Trump proposed the immigration ban went against her reasons for moving here in the first place — she wanted to live in a country where dreams were possible, people were welcomed and where she felt freedom thrived.
“The day after the immigration ban was proposed, I couldn’t go to school or to work … at all. I just woke up the next day and I felt like I didn’t want to live in this country anymore,” Casas said. “I couldn’t see myself surviving here.”
Although Casas has been dealing with many negative feelings since the immigration ban was first pushed by Trump, she remains motivated and is committed to reaching her goals..
“I want to graduate, I want to prove that I can do that,” Casas said.