International Student Athletes Weigh in on Trump’s Travel Ban

BY CHRISTIANNA CASALETTO // March 24, 2017 //

Although President Donald Trump’s Travel Ban currently targets individuals of seven Muslim–majority countries from entering the United States, there is still an ominous feeling for many; including international student athletes in America.

Tomas Brejcha moved to the U.S. from the Czech Republic to follow his passion for hockey. However, when Brejcha began attending Curry College this fall he found much more than just athletic success.

“Sports help me…easily find friends in different country,” said Brejcha. “I came to the [hockey] team and at the moment I had twenty friends.”

tomas
Tomas Brejcha, an international student athlete at Curry College, found not only success with hockey but a group of friends to support him and help him adjust to life in America. // image credit: Christianna Casaletto //

Similarly, Brejcha’s teammate, Hector Majul, moved to U.S. from Mexico at the age of fourteen pursuing a hockey career. Having spent most of his young adult life in America, Majul never really even considered the potential of a travel ban.

“I really don’t know where would I end [up] if there is a ban since I’m here under a student visa,” said Majul. “If I would’ve known that [about the ban] then, I probably would’ve not even come here at all…because it’s just wasting two years of my life.”

hector
Hector Majul, an international student athlete at Curry College, had never really considered the possibility of a ban before moving to America pursuing a hockey career. // image credit: Christianna Casaletto //

Trump’s presidency and proposed travel ban has significantly decreased the amount of international students willing to study in America. At Curry College, a number of their diverse study body comes from the variety of international students who enroll.

According to Assistant Director of Admission at Curry College, Shelia Vaughn, in the fall of 2016 there were 250 applicants, 150 accepted and 11 enrolled with 1 exchange student for a total of 12 new international students. In addition, there are 35 returning international students and one student participating in study abroad.

In total Curry College had 23 countries represented in the undergraduate program this academic year with a total of 46 International students, 1 international student studying abroad, and 1 exchange student.

These countries include: Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

“Each and every one of these students makes a difference in the classroom, residence halls, in clubs and organizations, and on the field or ice,” says Vaughn. “I have been working with international students for 17 years and I can say without a doubt that it is the most rewarding part of my job.”

Ken Carberry, co-founder of Chart Productions, a broadcaster and part-time legal practitioner, thinks the latest version of the travel ban has a better chance at the Supreme Court level than the first iteration; although he still believes there’s a huge risk that could affect a variety of people – including athletes.

“The major sports in the U.S. do not draw a lot from the selected countries,” says Carberry. “However collegiate sports, Olympic sports and trials, and international soccer could certainly be affected if their athletes live in the selected countries.”

So other than waiting in fear, what can our athletes do? Carberry makes a simple suggestion.

“The players have a responsibility to speak only through their actions; to show acceptance and friendship with their teammates, regardless of their background.”

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