America, the land of the free, is home to roughly a million International Students attending this country's prestigious universities. Recently, however, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program is trying to throw international students under the bus, or in other words, deporting students on M-1 & F-1 visas if their Fall Semester/Quarter classes are fully online. This means if the rule modifying temporary exemptions is enacted, then F-1 and M-1 students who haven't arranged an in-person plan for the Fall will be legally deported from our country. So much for the American Dream...
According to ICE, or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, students on F-1 and M-1 visas will be forced to "depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status."
Their announcement states
1. Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States
2. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools operating under normal in-person classes are bound by existing federal regulations. Eligible F students may take a maximum of one class or three credit hours online.
3. Nonimmigrant F-1 students attending schools adopting a hybrid model—that is, a mixture of online and in person classes—will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online.
Source: ICE Newsroom
Not only is this terribly unfair - the cons heavily outweigh the pros of this new immigration rule. Our international student community is an integral part of the United States, with more than half in STEM programs & most paying full tuition & billions in tax and contribution revenue to the US economy each year.
The Trump Administration's rash decision has put international students stuck between a rock and a hard place. If forced to go home, the challenges are innumerable given the effects of COVID-19 on the world travel economy, and many students can't afford to arrange such plans. They are also forced to endure greater risk catching the virus if they do wish to stay, being forced to attend in-person classes.
Furthermore, students are actually being denied re-entry into the United States as of yesterday according to Reuters. It's almost as if this country wants to lose its good standing in the world - a land where human rights are granted for each and every individual - unless, that is, you're not officially a citizen (yet). Such hypocrisy should not be allowed to continue under such predatory, nonsensical laws.
So what now? Currently, California State leaders and Top Universities (Harvard & MIT especially) have been filing lawsuits against the Trump Administration to overturn this ruling. To prepare for the worst, local schools have been opening opportunities for international students to enroll in in-person classes so they can stay in the states during the Fall. Such inconveniences are only the least of the problem. We can only hope that with enough support, the rule will go overturned.
What kind of extracurriculars will you be involved in?
7EDU Impact Academy's advice to you
Are you friends with any international students? Ask them what's going on & how you can help them directly - possibly by offering up a spot or asking your local friend network.
In the event of an ICE confrontation, you do not have to open your door, speak (5th Amendment), and you may call your lawyer (6th Amendment). Do not sign anything.
Always record if you think an incident may be going on of unjust deportation.
Email the ISSS (International Student & Scholar Department/Office)
Email your dean, major department chair, any faculty member, or the president of your school. Templates can be found at protectstudents.carrd.co
Visit SOIC.US to find community colleges with open programs, to find an open seat offered by another student (as an international student), to connect with international students directly, to request help, & to receive updates. SOIS also provides templates for contacting representatives & officials.
We hope the best for this country & its 1 million+ international students, and stand in support for them all the way. Immigrants and international students have long been key to America's greatness, and to remove the very international acceptance that made this country so attractive to the rest of the world is to forfeit this country's greatest values. Fortunately, many in this country feel differently than the Trump Administration and are fighting hard. Which side of history will you be on?
UPDATE: Yesterday, 6/14, the US Government withdrew the ICE directive! We should never have to fight the government for human rights, especially of our country's immigrants who rightfully earned their place here, and justice won the day.
Open Class Saturday 7/18/2020 6:00pm PDT via Zoom
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