It is no surprise that repressive policies against immigrants are born out of the US—especially during the time of a pandemic. With the immigration status of international students under threat, widespread confusion poses concerns about whether the students of today will be able to become productive members of society being a part of a system that promotes institutionalised discrimination and robs them of the standard of education their peers are awarded.

The aspiration of many in Pakistan is to be able to qualify for an admission into a well-established university of the west. Higher education, exposure to different cultures and socialising with peers is part of the experience of studying abroad, ultimately resulting in the rise of a more informed generation. Since their institutions will only be continuing with online instruction in the near future, F-1 holders are being forced to return to their home countries prematurely in a time when international travel is near impossible, dangerous and stressful. Not only is this detrimental to their personal growth but it also puts into question the ethics behind such a prejudiced change in policy—are immigrants by virtue of being humans, and present in the US legally, not entitled to the same protection offered to other members of society?

Active international students are now faced with two courses of action; switch to a different college that offers in-person instruction which would increase their exposure to COVID-19, or return to their respective countries—isolated from their peers and away from university life. What’s more bewildering is that this reform would deprive the US of $41 billion worth of revenue generated by foreign students. Instead, it promotes the market of giant competitors like China, Europe and even Japan. At this time, self-reflection is paramount for the American government as it threatens its own economy and moral values.