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Several Chico State international students stunned to hear they might soon be expelled -- out of the country.

Posted: Jul 10, 2020 7:33 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2020 7:33 PM

CHICO, Calif. - Several Chico State international students stunned to hear they might soon be expelled -- out of the country.

"We didn't know what to do," said an international student from Ethiopia Ablehulu Debebe. "We did not see it coming, this was unexpected."

The Trump administration issued a new policy that says if international students are not enrolled in at least one in-person class, they'll have to leave -- in the middle of a pandemic.

"The biggest concern for me is the COVID situation right now," said Pratiksha Kapse, an international student from India.

Faculty agree.

"We're telling our international students that you must attend an in-person class no matter what, and that also has an impact on faculty," said International Student Advisor Tasha M. Alexander. "It's a health concern. This is a pandemic, a global pandemic. We have a responsibility to take care of the health and well-being of all our students, including our international students."

To some students going back home isn't as easy as it sounds.

"Another option is to leave the country but that would be bad for me," said Debebe. "Because Ethiopia has political unrest and our internet has been shut down for at least three weeks."

And they're losing hope.

"I honestly don't know what to do."

Even for those that did make it home, the issues still follow you -- through the security checkpoint.

"I got a position with a club and they meet every Wednesday at 6-8 pm which is 4-6 in the morning over here," said Hikmat Abou Shahla from Lebanon. "So it's a struggle."

They feel like they're being kicked out of a home -- a home they belong to.

"We're spending about 4-6 years of our lives in that community and those are our people now," said Shahla.

Kicking out international students wouldn't just hurt the school, it'd hurt the entire city.

"If you do the math," said Alexander and Coordinator of International Student Services Cindy McKay. "Four-million-96-thousand dollars -- that would be the impact on our community. That's not just an impact on the university, it's an impact on homeowners, landlords, shop owners, the community in general."
The students know how helpful they are to the economy -- and they're feeling kicked to the curb.

"We're paying a lot of money to get this," said Debebe. "It's sad that we're collateral damage for the ongoing politics of the United States."

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