With the election of Donald Trump as president, a lot of international students have questions. Trump’s campaign was famously marked with negative statements about many groups of people, including those of different races, nationalities, and religions. You may wonder if America is still a safe and welcoming place for students, immigrants, and visitors from other countries.
While it feels like the presidential campaign revealed racism and xenophobia (fear of foreigners) in some Americans, most Americans still respect and welcome people regardless of their skin color, home country, or beliefs. A majority of American voters wanted Hillary Clinton to be president. (Trump won the electoral college, not the popular vote.)
And across the nation, Americans elected a diverse group of leaders to its national and state governments. Here are just a few of America’s rising leaders.
Ilhan Omar, Minnesota House of Representatives
Omar will be the country’s first Somali-American lawmaker. After four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, she came to the U.S. with her family at the age of 13. After earning a degree in political science and international studies, she worked in community nutrition education and then became involved in state political campaigns as a campaign manager and advocate for East African women in government.
“I think I bring the voice of young people,” says Omar, age 34. “I think I bring the voice of women in the East African community. I bring the voice of Muslims. I bring the voice of young mothers looking for opportunities.”
Catherine Cortez Masto, U.S. Senate
Cortez Masto, the granddaughter of Mexican and Italian immigrants, will be America’s first Latina senator. She was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, After becoming the first person in her family to go to college, she earned her law degree in 1990 and has worked as a civil attorney, a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. From 2007 to 2015, Cortez Masto was the Attorney General of Nevada and led efforts against sex trafficking in the state.
In her victory speech after Tuesday’s election, she declared, “Tonight we celebrate. Mañana, la luche sigue. (“Tomorrow, the fight continues.”)
Cyrus Habib, lieutenant governor, Washington
Formerly a state senator in Washington, Habib has been elected lieutenant governor of his state. He will be the highest-ranking Iranian-American elected official in the country. Habib was born to Iranian immigrants and lost his eyesight to cancer during childhood. He graduated from Yale Law School and has served in the Washington state legislature since 2012.
During his campaign, Habib said he was running “to continue important work on behalf of all Washingtonians, to lead the State Senate in a more collaborative direction, and to use the office to reach out to communities in every part of the state.”
Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate
Harris, the California Attorney General since 2011, is the daughter of an Indian-American mother and a Jamaican-American father. She will be the first Indian-American woman and second African-American woman in the U.S. Senate. Throughout her law career in California, she’s been known for her innovations in the criminal justice system. Going into Tuesday’s election, Harris told her supporters, “Whatever the results of the presidential election tonight, we know that we have a task in front of us. We know the stakes are high. When we have been attacked and when our ideals and fundamental ideals are being attacked, do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight!”
Entering Congress alongside Harris is the first Indian-American woman in the House of Representatives, Pramila Jayapal from Washington State. Jayapal became a U.S. citizen in 2000. She formed an advocacy group to lobby on immigration issues and help new Americans register to vote.
Stephanie Murphy, U.S. House of Representatives
Murphy will represent Florida as the second Vietnamese-American (and first Vietnamese-American woman) in Congress. She defeated John Mica, who had held the position for 23 years. Murphy, the first woman in her family to graduate from college, joined the Department of Defense as a national security specialist. She was motivated by the desire to help protect the country whose Navy rescued her family when they were trying to escape from Vietnam by boat. She now works for an investment firm and as a business professor and is a champion for female entrepreneurs.
Murphy decided to run for Congress after the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year. “The America I know, and the values I know, are at stake here,” Stephanie Murphy said during her campaign. “We have people now who are talking in a way that is divisive and dark. It’s not the future I want for my children. This is about principle.”
Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Senate
Duckworth, a member of the House of Representatives since 2013, will now represent Illinois in the seat that Barack Obama once held in the U.S. Senate. Born in Bangkok to a Thai-Chinese mother and American father, she will be the first Thai-American U.S. senator.
Duckworth is a U.S. Army veteran whose family traces its military history back the American Revolution. She lost her legs when the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. She went on to work for the Illinois and then U.S. Departments of Veteran Affairs. Of her service in politics, Duckworth said, “This nation didn’t give up on me when I was my most vulnerable and needing the most help. I believe in an America that doesn’t give up on anyone who hasn’t given up on themselves.”
We care about you
We understand that many students are concerned about the results of the U.S. presidential election. Your teachers and the IEI staff are here to listen to you and provide a safe place for you to express your concerns. We care about you, your families, and your sense of well-being as you continue to live and study here in the United States. We also invite you to reach out to us with any questions or concerns that you may have.