AERA Executive Director Speaks Out Against ICE Guidance on International Students and University Online-Only Instruction
AERA Executive Director Speaks Out Against ICE Guidance on International Students and University Online-Only Instruction

July  2020 

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On July 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued guidance that would have required international college and university students in the United States to leave the country if their institution provides online-only instruction this fall, prompting swift and strong opposition from AERA and other members of the scientific and higher education communities. 

In statement released on July 9, AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine said the guidance “serves absolutely no constructive purpose and is manifestly xenophobic. It creates enormous logistical problems for students and universities during a highly uncertain and stressful time, and places students at higher risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19.” 

Levine noted that not only do more than a million international students who are currently studying at U.S. colleges and universities contribute significantly to the richness of the learning environments in the United States, but also a large number of international students study education research at multiple levels and represent an important portion of the future scholars who will address crucial education issues. 

“From this administration universities need support, flexibility, and a commitment to ensuring that the United States remains the top higher education destination and a welcoming environment for building scientific capacity in the world, including in education research,” Levine said. “It is critical to the future of the United States that it is able to attract and retain the best and the brightest globally.”

The Trump administration announced on July 14 that it was rescinding the directive. The rescission came after dozens of states and universities filed lawsuits to block the order, with the support of several leading tech companies and hundreds of other institutions of higher education. 

On July 24, ICE issued more limited guidance that would prevent newly enrolled international students from entering the United States if their universities’ coursework is 100 percent online. Students who are enrolled in hybrid programs, combining online and on-site instruction, would not be affected. 

“We are pleased to see that the administration rescinded the original ICE guidance concerning current international students and is giving universities and their international students the flexibility they need to best navigate this unprecedented and incredibly challenging time,” said Levine. “We will continue to closely monitor the administration’s approach to international students as the academic year approaches.”

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