Tell SUNY: NO Deportations, NO Xenophobia, NO to the ICE Policy on International Students
SUNY Chancellor; SUNY Campus Presidents
On Monday July 6th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced adaptations to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) that target international students and international student workers and puts them in unnecessarily precarious positions. This new rule concerning M and F visa holders provides mandates for international students attending in-person, hybrid or fully online universities in the fall semester. According to these changes, international students attending universities that will be fully online in the fall will not be permitted to stay within the United States. International students in these universities will need to leave the country or face deportation. The U.S. will not issue new visas for students in these universities. International students in hybrid institutions will not be allowed to take a fully online course load. This will put them in increased danger of exposure to COVID-19, and place international students outside the U.S. in a highly uncertain position.
The Graduate Student Employees Union (GSEU), CWA Local 1104, denounces these recent adaptations to the SEVP. We call on the State University of New York (SUNY) to join many other higher education institutions in immediately denouncing the recent adaptations to the SEVP and committing to support its international students. We encourage all of our members and allies to sign the attached petition (scroll down to see full petition and demands) that was endorsed by GSEU leadership of every chapter across all SUNY campuses.
SUNY Chancellor; SUNY Campus Presidents
From: [Your Name]
On Monday July 6th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced adaptations to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) which target international students and international student workers, and which put international students in unnecessarily precarious positions. This new rule concerning M and F visa holders provides mandates for international students attending in-person, hybrid or fully online universities in the fall semester.
According to these changes, international students attending universities that will be fully online in the fall will not be permitted to stay within the United States. International students in these universities will need to leave the country or face deportation. The U.S. will not issue new visas for students in these universities.
For universities offering a hybrid model of both in-person and remote education, such as most State University of New York (SUNY) campuses, this means that international students will not be permitted to take a fully online course load, and will be required to take at least one in-person class. International students who are currently outside the U.S. and are unable to enter the country for the fall semester will not be able to maintain their visa status. In addition, the new changes mandate that if an institution that is hybrid or fully in-person switches to fully online classes at any point during the semester, international students still won’t be able to take a fully online load and stay within the U.S. This means that if SUNY campuses switch to fully online classes mid-semester, international students will need to leave the U.S. or face deportation.
These new policies are incredibly unjust, dangerous and discriminatory, and they put international students in impossible situations. With many travel restrictions still in place, many undergraduate and graduate international students who are enrolled at SUNY campuses across the state will be unable to return to the U.S. due to circumstances beyond their control. Under these rules, international students will potentially be denied access to education. Graduate students in this situation will be unable to receive their stipends and will risk facing unemployment in the midst of a pandemic and global economic crisis.
International students who are in the U.S. will be forced to enroll for in-person courses whereas domestic students will be free to choose a fully online course load. This means that while domestic students will be allowed to protect themselves and their families, international students will have to risk their lives in order to receive education and employment. This policy is blatantly xenophobic, and it discriminates against international students. It is unacceptable, unethical, and discriminatory to accept this policy which will put international students’ lives in increased danger solely because of their citizenship status.
At the same time, international students in the U.S. will be left in an exceptionally uncertain situation. If there is a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is predicted by many experts, these students will need to leave the U.S. at their own expense, arranging last-minute expensive flights to their countries to avoid detention and deportation. In the meantime, they will be forced to expose themselves to even more health risks through forced travel in the midst of an outbreak of COVID-19.
SUNY campuses across the state have a combined international student population of well over 20,000 people. They are an essential part of our community. They are instructors, students, colleagues, researchers, and most importantly they are fellow human beings working to help our university communities thrive. We believe that it is SUNY’s responsibility to take care of and protect all of its students and employees. Right now this means standing up for international students who are facing extremely grim consequences due to the current U.S. administration’s xenophobic and anti-immigrant policies.
In consideration of all of these developments, we urge SUNY to respond in the following ways:
1. SUNY administration should join many other higher ed institutions in immediately denouncing the recent adaptations to the SEVP and committing to support its international students.
2. As the largest public university system in the U.S., we know that SUNY holds influence over political decisions. Thereby, we ask SUNY to utilize its political connections to actively lobby for the reversal of the recent ICE proclamation and to protect F-1 and M-1 students.
3. Noting with approval that Harvard and MIT have filed a lawsuit against the DHS and ICE with regards to the recent policy changes to SEVP, we ask SUNY to act as a leader in higher education, and join the increasing number of universities behind this lawsuit in support of international students.
4. We urge the SUNY administration to find ways to accommodate and support international students who wish to take classes online, especially those who can’t make it back to the U.S., and those who are immunocompromised and can’t afford to be exposed to COVID-19 through in-person classes.
5. In light of the uncertainties of the COVID-19 crisis and the continuously shifting federal regulations, international students need transparent, responsive, and thorough legal counsel now more than ever. We thereby call for an expansion of the capacities of Visa and Immigration Services on each SUNY campus, and we ask the SUNY administration to keep a more detailed and expanded line of communication with international students.
6. Grant TAs/graduate instructors the option to choose to teach online or in-person (as is already permitted for faculty).
Members and Allies of SUNY Graduate Student Employees Union, CWA Local 1104