Rechkemmer: Let them stay

The Trump administration announced a ruling last week that would force international students studying in the United States to return home if their institution is set to have online instruction this semester.

Gracie Rechkemmer

Each year, more than 1 million international students choose to attend universities in the United States. These students play a vital role in our country. Beyond the crucial financial support international students offer to our universities and the economy in general, encouraging the enrollment of these students brings unique perspectives, support of underenrolled academic programs and some of the best and brightest minds in the world.  

We cannot afford to lose our international students. 

Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that student visa holders will have to leave the United States if they take only online classes. Since many universities are switching to online-only courses for the fall semester in order to prioritize the health and safety of their students, this new rule will affect thousands of students. In its recent news release, ICE insists international students either transfer to a school that will retain in-person instruction or leave the United States. ICE then threatens to deport students who either cannot or will not follow these rules.

This is a mistake.

Haven’t our students gone through enough stress as it is?

In 2020 we have faced a global pandemic that upturned our education system and severely weakened our schooling quality. Even now, a month away from the fall semester, we are facing extreme uncertainty.

Universities are struggling to come up with plans that simultaneously prioritize education and the health and safety of faculty and students. We have little information about what to expect, and the information we do have is changing rapidly. And now the U.S. government is threatening to deport our international students? Assigning them the almost impossible task of transferring universities mere weeks before classes start? Forcing them to leave the United States, while many have nowhere to return?

We will not stand for this.

We cannot allow the U.S. government to bully our fellow students, our fellow humans. We cannot let these students stand alone as they face fear and uncertainty. We cannot accept the bogus excuses the Trump administration continues to give for its xenophobic actions.

The United States could be a country that not only allows but embraces globalization, but instead closes its borders and shuts out the world. Through its actions, the U.S. government is making a clear statement to the rest of the world: you are not welcome here.

International students: I stand by you, and I hope the U.S. government will begin to stand by you as well.