New visa rule: Ban on foreign students cruel
136 Congressmen, 30 senators seek reversal of order
Washington: A group of 136 US Democratic Congressmen and 30 senators, including Indian-origin Kamala Harris, has urged the Trump administration to reverse its 'cruel' order that bars international students from staying in the United States if they do not have in-person classes to attend.
The lawmakers, in separate letters Thursday to Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf and Acting Secretary, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Matthew Albence expressed concern over the ICE's recently announced modifications to the Student Exchange and Visitor Programme (SEVP).
The new guidelines have created panic among international students, a majority of whom come from China and India. In its July 6 order, the ICE declared that non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online or taking only online courses will not be permitted to take a full course load and remain in the US.
The modifications also limited many students at normally operating schools from taking more than one class or three credit hours online in order to remain in the country.
The letter, signed by senators Robert Menendez, Cory Booker and Harris, the Indian-origin senator from California among others, expressed concern that the ICE's guidance is motivated not by the public health considerations, but rather by animus towards non-citizens and immigrants.
It said the move is a flagrant attempt to hold international students hostage in order to force schools to reopen even as COVID-19 cases are rising. In the 2018-2019 academic year, there were over a million international students in the US.
"The ICE's announcement of their plans to force out or deport international students who remain at US colleges and universities and who are taking a full online course load is cruel and unconscionable.
These students are already in the United States, are established members of educational communities, and have been determined through the visa screening process to pose no danger to the United States," the senators wrote.