I am appalled by the policy, announced on Monday by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that international students in the country on an F-1 visa must leave if their school goes fully online to cope with Covid-19.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the suspension of H1-B visas for foreign workers. The policy unveiled this week will deepen the pain of young people who are aiming to contribute to society and further deprive the U.S. of much-needed talent.
The new policy, which is being called the #StudentBan on social media, is cruel and capricious. Sometimes an entire family may pool their savings to send someone to study and give them a brighter future. Imagine being halfway to earning a degree and suddenly forced to leave the country amid the pandemic, when your home country may have closed its borders, even to citizens. Students have confided to me their worries about letting down their family or being unable to afford a plane ticket home.
University faculty and administrators are scrambling to offer in-person classes, even if it may not be safe or may have little pedagogical benefit, just for the purpose of protecting their international students from deportation. They were already struggling to manage campus shutdowns. This policy delivers another blow at a time when they least can afford it.
The U.S. is known worldwide as a great place to receive an education. That’s why I came here many years ago — on an F-1 visa — to attend college. If the U.S. loses this reputation, the whole world will be poorer for it.
If my daughter ever studies overseas, I hope that whatever country hosts her will treat her with greater kindness and respect than the U.S. is extending to our international students.