From recording the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths to police brutality and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, this year has been the toughest for the most powerful country in the world. Also, not forgetting the interesting Presidential Election that got the whole world talking.
America is home to millions of immigrants, and according to migrant population data from the United Nations, more than half of sub-Saharan African migrants living in the U.S. as of 2017 were born in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya.
Ghanaians are not lost faces in American communities. Thus, as we draw closer to the end of 2020, four Ghanaians living in America reflect on their year under Trump's administration by briefly sharing their opinions on the pandemic, BLM protests and the U.S. Presidential Election.
Papa, 25, migrated to the U.S. in August 2019 on an F-1 visa to pursue his graduate studies at the Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. Luckily for him, he received a good financial aid award which included a full tuition waiver for his two-year program and a paid graduate assistant position. Papa is one of the thousands of Ghanaians pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies in the U.S.
Everything seemed normal for him until the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. While the mortality rate from the pandemic scared him, President Trump's deportation plans for international students frightened him the most. Then there was the temporary suspension of H-1B visas through 2020. As an international student with dreams of applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation, this news gave him the chills. Thus, although he did not support the Democrats, he was hopeful that they would win the election. When asked about his views on the election, he replied via Facebook messenger stating, "I was following the election mainly through cable news, CNN and Fox News. I supported Trump, even though I knew Biden would win. I don't like the Democrats because their policies limit religious rights in the USA. Most of the Democrat policies are socialist, which goes against both the political and economic values of America. In short, the democrat administration is more intrusive to the personal freedom and liberties of people in an attempt to please minority groups."
He further added that Trump was not the best candidate. However, he supported Republicans because their political ideology is in line with the very founding principles of America, which is freedom ranging from political to economic and even extending to religion. Papa believes the election was free and fair and that President Trump's response to the BLM protests and COVID-19 pandemic may have contributed to his loss. Sharing his expectations of Biden's administration, he wrote, "I think from an international student's point of view, it has brought optimism to us since Biden is most likely to implement favourable immigration policies. More people are optimistic that work authorization would not be a big problem in the future as well as obtaining citizenship in the USA at least for those who want it."
From the West Coast of the U.S., Serwa also reflects on life under Trump's administration this year. The 25-year-old is an H-1B visa holder working with one of the tech giants in San Jose, California. She migrated to the U.S. in 2018 after being recruited by the firm as a Software Engineer. Although she supported neither of the two candidates, she shared the same sentiments with Patrick on the work authorization issue. Speaking on the election, in general, she replied in a WhatsApp chat stating, "I was following the election through the news. I wasn't supporting any of the candidates. I just wanted to know who was winning. I was very concerned, which is why I was following, but I didn't like either of them, so I didn't pick sides."
Serwa further expressed that she was not excited about President Trump's immigration antics. However, she was neither in support of the Democrat's pro-choice values either. Explaining what she meant by pro-choice values, she wrote, "Basically they think that a woman can choose what stays in her body so babies can be aborted if the woman doesn't want them. I think that's just encouraging murder." Serwa did not support Trump because she felt he was not compassionate. She also believes the pandemic and BLM protests alongside his Twitter outbursts may have contributed to his loss. As an immigrant in the U.S., she is now hopeful that all the visa issues will be resolved and is anxiously waiting to see what Biden has to offer.
In Seattle, a 29-year-old single mother of one who wants to remain anonymous was anxious about the election results. As one of the millions of people who make up America's growing undocumented immigrant population, the outcome of the election was either going to make or break her pursuit of the American Dream. She migrated to the U.S. in 2018 with a tourist visa and gave birth to her beautiful daughter in November last year. Her biggest concern is healthcare and immigration policies; thus, she supported Biden in this year's election. In sharing her opinions on the election, she replied in a WhatsApp chat stating, "I supported Biden because he was going to continue with the affordable care act. That is what paid for my entire pregnancy expenses and likewise helps other low-income earners pay for all their health services too. Trump said he was going to abolish it - so ridiculous! Also, he stated in his mandate that he would offer citizenship to 11 million undocumented persons. Healthcare is costly. Without good health, there is nothing you can do." According to her, the democrats are prominent on furthering people's rights and that Trump's response to COVID-19 and the BLM Protests made him lose the election. She is very optimistic about the future and debunked the misconception of immigrants not being free in America by stating, "I can go to all governmental agencies. I can even drive if I want to. It's not as difficult as outsiders think."
Finally, in Kansas State, Ghanaian-Nigerian-American, 34-year-old Akua, was in support of the Democrats citing Biden's behaviour as less erratic than Trump's. As a pharmacy manager, the COVID-19 pandemic affected her job but not as much as it did others. She shared in an Instagram chat, "There was a drop in patients who were willing to come out into the store, so the company switched to offering prescriptions by mail." According to her, Biden understands the importance of maintaining amicable relationships with other countries in a way that benefits America without Twitter outbursts or quoting conspiracy theorists. She also mentioned that Biden's history would help him deal with racism in a better way than Trump. When asked about the way forward, she added, " I believe his VP Kamala Harris will safeguard future approaches and decisions in a way that finds solutions that also benefit minority citizens and communities." Akua believes that there is never a 100% correct counting of votes. However, she still maintains her position that the U.S. election was free and fair." She cited Trump's handling of the pandemic and BLM protests as possible reasons for his loss.