IN a move that will be a blow to foreign students, American Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Monday that international students attending schools in the US may not take a full online course load and remain in the US. The law-enforcement agency said those students whose universities are operating fully online must leave the country, transfer to in-person schools or face deportation. The announcement came just weeks after US President Donald Trump suspended the entry of certain foreign workers to the US — a decision taken on the pretext that it would help the coronavirus-battered economy but one which betrays Mr Trump’s anti-immigration motives. The fresh decision that orders foreign students to leave if they aren’t attending school in person will have hugely negative consequences for the international student body of about 1.2m in the US. Not only will it add to the already uncertain situation they are facing as universities shut down and go online in a Covid-battered country, it will unfairly force them to leave accommodations they have paid for out of fear that they will be deported.
The American government’s decision seems to be senseless, unfair and unjustifiable. It flies in the face of the hopes of so many foreigners who pay thousands of dollars to gain an education and experience university life which is so prized in the US. Ahead of the election, Mr Trump appears to have pulled many a shocking trick out of his hat, yet the recent move targeting foreign students is a new low and perhaps among the most cruel and illogical. Not surprisingly, even as the United States becomes the country with the highest Covid-19 death toll at 133,000 and 3m cases, Mr Trump tweeted this week to say that universities should open this fall. It appears that ICE’s announcement will exert pressure on universities to reopen even if they are not ready, therefore exposing students to health risks. This narrow-minded and unjust decision must be rethought.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2020