President Donald Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) is telling students in the U.S. on student visas they “must depart the country” or enroll in a different school if their college or university will or already has moved their courses online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Students legally in the U.S. on student visas who are “attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” an ICE memo released Monday reads.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
There is a global pandemic raging and travel to many countries is currently banned, either by the U.S. or by those countries, or both.
Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who is generally even-keeled, is calling the decision “Crazy.”
“This … Is … Crazy ! What national security or economic interest of the American people does this ridiculous decision serve?” he asked on Twitter.
Online, some, like American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick and others, noted that just leaving the country isn’t that easy, and the students’ home countries might not have reliable or even high-speed internet access, or their time zone might change dramatically, forcing some to take courses in the middle of the night.
Another great point as to why students may not be able to attend classes in their home countries. Many of the resources that professors will rely on for online-only curricula are not available in every country. Some students could be locked out of tech. https://t.co/FuUsN8ziKm
— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) July 6, 2020
Image: Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Matthew Albence
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