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  • Writer's pictureLoyola Graduate Workers' Union

Loyola Worker Coalition Response to ICE's Recent F-1 and M-1 Student Modifications

Recently, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a statement modifying temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during the fall 2020 semester as a result of COVID-19. These modifications state that, “Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. 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. 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. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

As we move closer to reopening for the fall semester, it is clear that these new ICE modifications are a direct threat to all international students across this country. International students will be forced to choose between putting their health and well-being at risk to attend in person classes or face the threat of deportation due to taking online classes. Furthermore, many countries have closed their borders due to the United States’ poor handling of the pandemic. As such, many international students may not be able to physically go to their home countries. The modifications made by ICE are strong-armed attempts to force the hand of universities to reopen while using international students as collateral and to use the current pandemic as justification for enacting ever-increasing xenophobic policies. ICE is directly endangering the lives of international students and threatening the value of higher education in the United States. This is an affront to human dignity - it is draconian and heartless.

As the Loyola Worker Coalition, we vehemently oppose the actions of ICE, and we recognize these modifications as a threat to the educational pursuits and lives of our international students. At Loyola, international students make up roughly 5.4% of the total student population, making up 4.8% of the undergraduate student population and 6.7% of the graduate student population, according to the most recent data. Our international students make up a significant and valuable portion of our academic community. We will do everything within our power to help support all international students across this university by supplying resources when possible and amplifying the voices and concerns of those that need to be protected. ICE’s actions here are nothing but a reflection of the Trump administration’s xenophobic policies, and these recent modifications represent a purely political play to target both international students and the U.S.’s system of higher education in general. In response, we will not stand idle while the basic human dignity of our fellow international students and workers continues to be threatened.

Loyola University Chicago is an institution built on Jesuit values, and as such, it is a social justice institution committed to, among other things, “[t]he pursuit of a more just society through service to others”. It has also committed itself to a just and inclusive environment. As Loyola’s diversity statement reads, “[W]e recognize a common unity that anchors and enlivens our commitment to inclusion and creates brave spaces for dialogue to happen, through initiatives that educate the masses”.

Recently, MIT and Harvard have sued the Trump administration over ICE’s actions, demonstrating that action can and should be taken by institutions of higher education. Loyola has historically stood on the side of migrants concerning DACA and the DREAM Act, and we view standing in opposition to ICE as a direct extension of this past support. We are calling upon Loyola to deliver on its institutional promises by making use of its resources to protect and support their international students, to provide legal advice and support to their international students, and to stand in direct opposition to ICE. We ask the Loyola administration to join their counterparts like MIT and Harvard in directly confronting this issue, mobilize the Jesuit community, including other Jesuit universities, and use their vast network to engage with state and federal legislators to fight back against ICE’s actions.

The Loyola Worker Coalition

July 9, 2020

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