When I was a little kid, America was always the country I wanted to come to. Studying in America was always my dream. Spending the past three years in the United States has been a life-changing experience. However, I feel like my American Dream is about to end.
As graduation is right around the corner, many ask me what I will do after that. A seemingly common question for graduating students. But the question frightens me and whenever I hear it, I feel as if both good and bad thoughts come flooding in my head. The decision I will make after graduation might upend my whole life in an instant. I am now at the stage where I have to decide if I want to stay or leave the U.S.
Although most of my friends encourage me to stay and work in the U.S., it seems hopeless.
Last year, President Trump signed the “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order which “seeks to increase wages and employment rates for U.S. workers and to protect their economic interests,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This would mean that we, international students, would have a harder time to get an H-1B visa and work in the U.S.
The H-1B visa is non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to temporarily employ highly skilled foreign workers. Applicants in various fields have a chance to get the visa.
Following the statement from the Trump administration in January, they are not considering regulatory to current H-1B holders but maybe to future holders. In fact, only 59 percent of H-1B applicants were approved in 2017 which is lower compared to any year in the last decade, according to USCIS.
Not only will there be more paperwork in the application process, but the executive order also would tighten rules on who can receive the visa by awarding it to only “most-skilled or highest-paid” foreign workers. Even though they could get the visa, future holders may not be granted the full three years.
In the past three years, this country taught me about diversity. I have been able to encounter new cultures, know new perspectives and realize my own biases because of the many people I have met. “Where are you from?,” which I have been asked all the time, helped me identify who I am and know how to represent my culture. If people haven’t been as welcoming enough to outsiders like me, I would have never become more open-minded.
However, it feels as though the country now tried to exclude diversity. The irony drives me crazy, and it reminds me of Executive Order 9066 when the government forced Japanese Americans, Italian Americans and German Americans to stay in internment camps during World War II.
I have interviewed many Japanese Americans whose family members were in the camp at the time, and they always said “never again.” Despite their efforts of passing down the history to young generations ― so that it never repeats itself ― and countless rallies to protect people from discrimination, Donald Trump is going his own way to “make America great again.”
Being in America has, so far, enriched my life, and will surely continue to do so. Working in the U.S. is the closest way to achieve my goals. But if I always have to be anxious and worry about when I might be forced to leave this country, I’d rather go back to my home country of Japan.
As I was at many rallies, seeing people demonstrate for their rights, I know how much energy is required to fight for what you believe is right. Then, I guess my American dream is meant to remain a dream forever.