The federal government yesterday issued regulations that will require international students who are enrolled in universities in the United States to return to their home countries if their schools offer only online instruction. In short, during the pandemic, when many students will be studying online in order to reduce the risk of infection, international students will not be able to stay in this country if their course load is entirely remote.
In a cruel addendum to this draconian policy, ICE insists that if a school moves to online instruction at any point during the semester, the international students will have to immediately leave the country. In the spring, recognizing the particular hardship of the pandemic, the government allowed international students to remain in the US even if they were no longer living on a campus. This will no longer be the case under the most recent regulations.
Over the past three years, the federal government has demonized immigrants and undermined the security of many who were temporarily in the United States to work or study. From threats of deportation to the “Muslim Ban” and fulminations on the “Chinese virus,” the Trump administration has stoked hostility to foreigners – or at least to foreigners it paints as undesirable. Recent restrictions on immigrants were supposedly aimed to help with unemployment, but many of those who might be prevented from working in this country have the entrepreneurial skills that create jobs.
Now, foreign students wanting to study in the United States cannot help but feel the suspicion and hostility coming from Washington. At Wesleyan, we have been fortunate to have about 15% of our students coming from abroad, and they have contributed so much to the educational and cultural life of our community.
At Wesleyan we will take advantage of all appropriate ways to assist our international students during this pandemic. We will support their efforts to continue their education. I hope you will join me in urging our elected officials to stand up for international students and education. You can find more information about how to do so here.