Universities react to news from ICE regarding international students

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jul 08, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — International students are facing uncertainty with a new guidance from the Trump administration that bars them from staying in the U.S. if they take classes online this fall.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified colleges Monday that international students will be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer if their schools offer only online courses.

News5 spoke with CSU Pueblo and Colorado College concerning this new policy. Both universities say their international students won't be at risk of deportation as long as they take one in-person class.

"At Colorado College, we don't expect this to impact our students because we are planning on offering both in-person and online courses, and that is allowed under the new guidelines," said Allen Bertsche, director of Global Education."One concern of ours is that if the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse, and we are required to go back to only online, would the government allow the same flexibility that it did last year for international students to remain in the area."

Bertsche says another issue for their students is that for the ones overseas, they can't take online courses offered by Colorado College as a way to maintain their status, allowing them to come back into the U.S. when it reopens.

"If they were unable to do that, we would have to create a new visa for them or a new status for them. That would restart their clocks for things like internships or post graduation work in the United States. It's not an immediate impact, but it may be a negative impact for those students graduating in May."

A Colorado College student who wanted to remain anonymous says there is a lack of clarity with the policy.

"I just feel like it is not clear. It says we cannot do this and we cannot do that, but it doesn't tell me what I can do," he said. "It makes me sad, to be honest. I'm really sad because it won't hurt me, but I have a lot of friends that live in China and they might have trouble coming back."

Another student says she's worried about what it means for her financially.

"I'm nervous about my financial status personally because I don't know if I'm leaving, where I'm going to, how much it's going to cost,"she said.

CSU Pueblo told News5 that more information will be provided to international students next Monday. They weren't able to talk on camera but say there won't be much restructuring for students.

Bertsche says colleges across the Midwest are working on a plan to address these new measures.

"Study Colorado and The Associated Colleges of the Midwest, as well as national organizations that deal with international students, all of those groups have advocacy wings that are going to push state and federal government to see what changes can be made to make this a little less frightening and flexible for our international students," said Bertsche.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a federal lawsuitchallenging the Trump administration’s decision. The lawsuit, filed in Boston’s federal court, seeks to prevent federal immigration authorities from enforcing the rule.

The universities contend that the directive violates the Administrative Procedures Act, because officials failed to offer a reasonable basis justifying the policy.