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In a shocking turn of events, recently the U.S. topped 4 million coronavirus cases. as a precaution and safety measure colleges and universities rolled out plans to shift to online learning for the fall semester. This led the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to announce that any International students who plan to solely enrol in online classes this fall will be barred from entering the country. This was done by the ICE via a press release on Friday, leaving thousands of International students, scared and uncertain of their future.

"Non-immigrant students in new or initial status after March 9 will not be able to enter the U.S. to enrol in a U.S. school as a non-immigrant student for the fall term to pursue a full course of study that is 100 percent online," ICE said in its press release. 1 In furtherance of this decision, the US Department also mandated that international students would not be provided with an I-20 form that declares their legal student status. This decision was applicable to all designated school officials.

This isn’t the first time that the ICE has taken a similar decision that could potentially harm immigrant and international student all around the world.

Earlier this summer, the ICE pushed to enact a similar decision. The guidance stated that any international students who were enrolled in schools that switched to online learning as their primary platform would have to transfer schools or leave the country. The ICE guidance even put the risk of deportation on the international students.

Earlier this month, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued President Donald Trump’s administration over a new policy that would have forced all international students attending U.S. colleges out of the country if their classes were conducted fully online. ICE quickly rescinded the policy amid the backlash. The department quickly rescinded that guidance on July 14 when faced with backlash and law suits

The recent guidelines by the ICE has impacted thousands of students who are currently studying in American Institutes as well thousands of prospective students who’ve worked tirelessly to live the "Good American Life". This has led many institutes and students to wonder if the new semester will reflect the harsh reality of new international students that is ensured by the Trump Administration.

"When I first saw the news, I was shocked," says Josh Lin, a second-year law student at NYU who is originally from China and hopes to practice both in the private sector and in human rights law. 2

"The directive issued by the Trump Administration is the latest in a string of attacks against both immigrant and international students, as well as institutions of higher education," says Regina Calcaterra, a New York-based lawyer and who serves on the board of the State University of New York at New Paltz. 3

Louis Caldera, co-chair and senior advisor of the Presidents’ Alliance, told The PIE News that the lack of definitive guidance by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) undermines the country’s standing as the destination of choice for international students.

He also said that despite international students spending months or years, and thousands of dollars to prepare to study in the US, the rug is being pulled from under their feet.

  • 1 Li Cohen, ICE bans new international students enrolled in online-only classes from entering U.S., CBS NEWS, July 24, 2020, 10:07 PM
  • 2 Abigail Hess, ‘I would be forfeiting my education’: International students share how new ICE rules impact them, CNBC, Jul 10 2020
  • 3 Ibid

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