Advancing Justice Rebukes ICE Guidance That Could Force Out Thousands of International Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Advancing Justice Rebukes ICE Guidance That Could Force Out Thousands of International Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic


WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 8, 2020) — In a recent ICE July 6th press release, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that international students at universities conducting classes entirely online as a health precaution would not be allowed to remain in the United States for the fall 2020 semester despite the ongoing pandemic. This rule change could lead to the forceful departure of over 360,000 enrolled students with F-1 and M-1 visas at American colleges and universities. This also forces universities to grapple with the choice between the health and safety of their students, staff, and others or divisive, anti-immigrant policy. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent civil rights organizations, releases the following statement:

“This new ICE rule is calculating and vindictive. This senseless policy disregards the education, health, and welfare of students across the country. It serves to only advance Trump’s white nationalist agenda and desire to purge the country of immigrants under the cover of COVID-19, while there is an utter lack of response to address the pandemic inside detentions and prisons, where people are dying. 

Students are experiencing extreme changes and obstacles in their education as a result of the pandemic, but now ICE is treating international students like political pawns and dictating educational choices and leveraging immigration status as a weapon. This new move is another notch of cruelty in a long list of xenophobic and white supremacist policies targeting the immigrant community.

We applaud Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for filing a lawsuit  seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction to stop the enforcement of the rule. In the lawsuit, the schools argued that ‘returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impracticable, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous.’ Harvard and MIT alone have about 9,000 students who would be affected by the rule.

We demand ICE remove this unnecessary and spiteful rule. Further, we call on more colleges and universities to protect students and take legal action if ICE continues down this path.”

Megan Singson, Advancing Justice – Chicago, 773-271-0899 x200,

Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice – AAJC, 202-296-2300 x0144,

Sabrina Chin, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, (415) 848-7765,

James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, 404-585-8446,

Jeffrey DeGuia, Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, (213) 977-7500 x259,

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago.