The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday (July 6) that they are planning to deport students who are in the country pursuing their education on visas if their institutions are only offering online classes during COVID-19, according to the ICE website.
“The US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States,” the website reads.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” the press release continues. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
The announcement comes just as more colleges and universities reveal that they will be offering more online courses. Both Princeton and Harvard are urging students to take their courses online and are only allowing a small amount of the students on campus this fall. Coronavirus testing will be required for all of them.
“There’s so much uncertainty. It’s very frustrating,” said Valeria Mendiola, a student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “If I have to go back to Mexico, I am able to go back, but many international students just can’t.”
The announcement was met with immediate backlash from people on social media. Twitter user @JulianCastro tweeted, “ICE is now trying to deport students enrolled in colleges and universities that are teaching exclusively online due to COVID-19. This is needlessly cruel and must be challenged in court.”
ICE is now trying to deport students enrolled in colleges and universities that are teaching exclusively online due to COVID-19.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) July 6, 2020
This is needlessly cruel and must be challenged in court. https://t.co/aEVnrneIt2
“Is there a guy at ICE whose entire job is to come up with cartoonist villainous plans and them implement them as policy?” social media user @imillhiser wrote.