136 Congressmen, 30 Senators seek reversal of US decision on international students

PTI Washington | Updated on July 10, 2020 Published on July 10, 2020

Dreams soured A file photo of a US Universities fair in Hyderabad   -  G Ramakrishna

A group of 30 US Senators and 136 Congressmen – all from the Opposition Democratic Party – has urged the President Donald Trump-led administration to reverse its order that bars international students from staying in the country if they do not have in-person classes to attend next semester.

In separate letters to Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, and Acting Secretary, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matthew Albence, the lawmakers expressed concern over the ICE’s recently announced modifications to the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP).

In its July 6 order, the ICE declared that non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online or taking only online courses will not be permitted to take a full course load and remain in the United States.

The modifications also limited many students at normally operating schools from taking more than one class or three credit hours online in order to remain in the country.

“ICE’s announcement of their plans to force out or deport international students who remain at US colleges and universities and who are taking a full online course load is cruel and unconscionable,” wrote the Senators.

“These students are already in the United States, are established members of educational communities, and have been determined through the visa screening process to pose no danger to the United States,” it added.

The letter, signed by Senators Robert Menendez, Cory Booker, and Indian-Origin Senator Kamala Harris, among others, expressed concern that the ICE’s guidance is motivated not by public health considerations, but rather by animus towards non-citizens, immigrants, and is a flagrant attempt to hold international students hostage in order to force schools to reopen even as Covid cases are rising.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, there were over a million international students in the US.

We call out this policy for what it is: a cruel, senseless, and xenophobic attempt to use non-citizens as political pawns in order to financially coerce colleges and universities to reopen campuses this fall, despite what is best for public health,” the lawmakers continued.

“This policy is dangerous to the health and well-being of numerous communities,” they said.

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Published on July 10, 2020
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