This past Monday, on July 6th, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) dropped a bombshell that has left college campuses shocked: all foreign students enrolled in American universities must leave the country or face deportation if all of their classes have been switched to online.
The decision comes in the midst of colleges working out how to run their campuses for the fall semester while keeping students and faculty safe from the coronavirus. Tulane, like many other colleges, has already outlined a plan for how the semester will proceed. Among other precautions, we will begin classes five days earlier than expected and go all the way through to Thanksgiving with no fall break, concluding the semester online. This is meant to limit the spread of the virus through travel, as well as hopefully beat an anticipated second wave of widespread infection.
ICE’s decision concerning international students has similar reasoning, however its effects on these students and the colleges are detrimental. According to Tulane’s own statistics, 11% of our student body is composed of international students from 83 countries who may all face deportation if their semesters go online. While it is unlikely to be the case for many Tulane students specifically, as we have been informed by the faculty that less than 25% of all classes will be administered online, students at colleges all over the country may have to scramble in response to this major change in their plans. They may have to contend with breaking leases on apartments, major time differences for attending online lectures and communicating with professors, and time cut short with friends and cities that represent so much of their college experience.
In defense of their own and other international students, Harvard and MIT have lept to the forefront of this issue, suing ICE to prevent the enforcement of its decision. President of Harvard Lawrence S. Bacow addressed the Harvard community on Wednesday, stating, “We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and international students at institutions across the country – can continue their studies without the threat of deportation.”
The talent and perspective that foreign scholars bring to college campuses like Tulane is invaluable. We must work to protect their continued opportunity for collaboration.
*Update: This policy was surprisingly rescinded by the Trump administration on Tuesday, July 14th. International students are now free to resume their studies in the United States regardless of if their classes are online. The news was announced by judge Allison Burroughs, who was meant to preside over the case between ICE and Harvard and MIT.*
Andersen, T., & Fox, J. (2020, July 10). High-stakes hearing set for Tuesday in Harvard, MIT lawsuit challenging ICE rules on international students – The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 11, 2020, from https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/07/10/metro/big-hearing-set-tuesday-harvard-mit-lawsuit-challenging-ice-rules-international-students/
Garrett, B. (2020, July 10). International Students Grapple With Uncertainty Following ICE Deportation Order. Retrieved July 11, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/briannegarrett/2020/07/10/international-students-grapple-with-uncertainty-following-ice-deportation-order/
Kruzel, J. (2020, July 14). Trump administration rescinds foreign students rule. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/507293-trump-administration-rescinds-policy-to-strip-visas-from-foreign?amp
Statistics: Center for Global Education. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2020, from https://global.tulane.edu/oiss/about/statistics
Susan Svrluga, N. (2020, July 09). Harvard, MIT sue Trump administration to protect student visas, escalating fight over online learning. Retrieved July 11, 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/07/08/harvard-mit-international-students-ice/