ICE Reverses Policy that would Force International Students to Leave the US

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At a federal hearing this morning, the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that they will rescind their latest policy which would have forced international students to leave the country if their classes were mostly online.

When universities shut down in March, ICE suspended the rule requiring students holding F-1 and M-1 visas to attend most of their classes in person. However, on July 6, ICE issued a directive stating that nonimmigrant international students on F-1 and M-1 visas would not be allowed to enter or remain in the US if they took a fully online class load for Fall 2020.

Most universities are still finalizing plans to re-open in the fall, with many schools having already adopted a fully online or hybrid curriculum in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as a result of this new directive, thousands of international students, including those at UCSD, would have been forced to leave the US. 

“ICE rescinding it’s rules is a huge relief for international students throughout the nation. We have fought hard and worked tirelessly to make this happen,” Associated Students of UCSD International Senator Dakshh Saraf told The Triton. “This is a result of countless petitions, nationwide support and scores of lawsuits from universities across [the country] … However, our advocacy does not end here, we need to keep striving to make UCSD and this nation a more conducive environment for the international community.”

Universities also opposed the policy. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a joint lawsuit the day after its release, and the University of California (UC) system joined them shortly thereafter along with countless attorney generals. Companies, including Facebook and Google, also filed supporting legal briefs

In a press release about the lawsuit, UC President Janet Napolitano said that the policy is “illegal, unnecessary, and callous.”

According to news reports, the hearing where this change was announced only lasted minutes. ICE will revert to the policy it released in March that allows international students to remain in the country while taking online classes. 

Ella Chen is the Editor-in-Chief of The Triton. You can follow her @cinder_ellachen.