The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on the Trump administration to reverse its “cruel, dangerous and xenophobic” decision to force international students on F-1 and M-1 visas out of the United States if their schools shift to online-only learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to guidance released yesterday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), international students could be forced to leave the United States or transfer schools if their colleges or universities move classes entirely online this fall.
ICE previously granted an exemption to foreign students who would have been similarly impacted by the shift to online-learning during the spring semester. ICE could authorize another exemption for students studying during the 2020-2021 school year, but has refused to do so.
CAIR is also encouraging colleges and universities to protect international students from deportation by identifying ways to arrange the minimum amount of safe on-campus learning for impacted students.
In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:
“The Trump administration must immediately reverse this cruel, dangerous and xenophobic decision, which is the latest in a long line of policies designed to turn white supremacy into government policy.
“ICE must not punish international students for circumstances outside of their control, nor should ICE force students to choose between risking exposure to COVID-19 in a physical classroom or on a flight out of the country. International students must be allowed to safely reside in America while learning through online courses.
“While we seek to reverse ICE’s decision, colleges and universities should do whatever they can to ensure that international students are able to stay here while they participate in as much online-only learning as possible.”