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Trump Administration Rescinds ICE International Student Visa Policy Amidst Panic Over Fall Quarter

UCI Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Willie L. Banks, Jr. announced that international students are now required to enroll in at least one in-person course this fall to enter or remain in the U.S. on July 6. 

Banks said in an email that if they decide to enroll fully online, students will remain able to matriculate with UCI from outside the U.S. 

“UCI appreciates and values our international students and we understand the concern that many of you may have with these new developments. Our campus will do all that we can to support our students while complying with these changes and minimizing student disruption,” he said. 

This announcement from UCI followed an official report released by the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stating that immigrant students are barred from taking a full online course load and remain in the U.S. 

In response to the changes, the University of California published a press release announcing plans to file suit against the federal government on July 8. 

“The lawsuit will seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to bar ICE from enforcing an order that UC President Janet Napolitano called ‘mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America,”’ the press release stated.

The University of California joins Havard and MIT who have also filed lawsuits against the federal government. 

Many members of the academic community have stepped in to help international students for the fall quarter. 

Sara Wallace Goodman, a political science professor at UCI, was one of the first to offer aid to international students when she tweeted: “I will do an in-person, face to face independent study with any @UCIrvine student that faces removal from the US because of this policy.” 

Goodman has furthered her advocacy by co-writing a list of actions with Nazita Lajevardi, an assistant professor of political science at Michigan State University, for faculty and university administrators to take in opposition to what is now being called the #StudentBan. 

Student advocates have also been using their platforms to share information about alternative measures international students can take in order to stay in the U.S. 

The social justice Instagram page, Community Equity, run by UCLA students Yuliana Barrón Perez and Noah Hernandez, has recently garnered attention due to their Google Sheet. The document states where non-international students can swap or volunteer their spots in on-campus classes so that international students can fit the minimum requirement to avoid deportation. 

This Google Sheet was originally intended for UCLA students. However, since gaining traction online, it has expanded nationally with students from UCI, UCSB, Cornell, UW and Northwestern. 

The Community Equity page has since launched a website called Support Our International Students, or S.O.I.S, within 72 hours of the creation of the original Google Sheet due to their high volume of volunteers. This website includes additional resources for class-swapping, anti-ICE petitions, on-campus class lists and networking tools for international students.  

As students and faculty continue to organize on the ground, University of California administrators have joined the call to action. 

Outgoing UC President Janet Napolitano announced her support in a press release on July 7. 

“UC will assess fully how these changes will affect our campuses and our international students. However, this much is abundantly clear: The Trump administration’s latest actions impacting international students jeopardize our nation’s future as a worldwide leader in research and innovation,” she said. 

Second year gender and sexualities student Kaoru Ando is an international student feeling dejected by the notion of not returning to the U.S., let alone UCI, this coming fall.

“I think studying abroad is not just about studying. It’s about learning culture, making friends, joining school organizations. Being remote this spring, the chance to communicate with classmates decreased a lot for me, especially since I’m in a different time zone. It’s going to be really hard and sad to do that for fall, and possibly the whole year,” Ando said. “With the ICE policy, I can’t help but feel attacked. I wonder why only international students have to be kicked out. Is it not also dangerous for out of state, but in the country students to be traveling back and forth from campus and home?”

Ando further explains that the ruling affects her and many other international students’ ability to pursue their courses of study. 

“In Japan there’s not many programs offering majors like gender and sexuality. The choices are a lot less than the colleges in the U.S. For fall quarter, I’m planning to take online classes at UCI, but for winter and spring quarter I might have to transfer schools here in Japan,” Ando said. 

Ando is not the only student disheartened by ICE’s recent edict. Many international students have expressed similar concerns and opinions regarding their rights to continue their studies in the U.S.

“I understand the hardships that international students have to go through … it is not just about how much extra tuition we pay, or the cultural adapting process, it is about respect and human rights. We worked hard to receive education at wherever institution we are now, and this should not be impacted because of political matters,” UCI second year student Carina Chen said.

According to Banks, UCI will continue “exploring potential options” and stated that the current situation is “subject to change.” 

On July 14,  U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs announced the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind ICE’s policy regarding international students forcibly studying outside the U.S 

“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution. The government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 policy directive. They will return to the status quo as established by the March 9, 2020 policy directive,” she said.

Burroughs was to preside over the Harvard-MIT lawsuits against the Trump Administration; she announced the decision during a hearing for this case in Boston, MA.

Sydney Charles is a 2020-2021 Campus News Co-Editor. She can be reached at campusnews@newuniversity.org.

Tatum Larsen is a 2020-2021 Campus News Co-Editor. She can be reached at campusnews@newuniversity.org.

Dhanika Pineda is a 2020-2021 Campus News Co-Editor. She can be reached at campusnews@newuniversity.org.