Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A student holds two signs during an MIT international student demonstration on March 12, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

80+ Lawmakers Demand Trump Rescind 'Cruel, Senseless' Plan to Force International Students Out of US

"ICE's arbitrary new policy is irrational and xenophobic, and risks the health of students, faculty, and staff."

Jake Johnson

More than 80 members of Congress late Thursday demanded that the Trump administration immediately withdraw a "cruel, senseless, and xenophobic" directive that would strip international college students of their visas to study in the U.S. if their fall coursework is moved entirely online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Issued earlier this week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the measure could affect hundreds of thousands of students whose universities have paused in-person classes to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Under the new rule, students currently out of the country would be denied visas to enter the U.S. if their universities are offering only in-person classes and students already in the country would be required to leave or face deportation.

"More than 11,000 students in the Seattle-area alone could be impacted by the Trump administration's newest xenophobic attack. As someone who was on a student visa, I'm fighting back."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal

The directive was swiftly met with legal challenges from Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the state of California.

In their letter (pdf) Thursday, House and Senate lawmakers raised concern that "ICE's guidance is motivated not by public health considerations, but rather by animus toward immigrants, by a goal of forcing schools to reopen even as Covid-19 cases are rising, and by a desire to create an illusion of normalcy during this unprecedented public health emergency."

The letter was signed by dozens of prominent members of Congress, including Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The lawmakers condemned the Trump administration over what they described as an attempt to "use noncitizens as political pawns in order to financially coerce colleges and universities to reopen campuses this fall, despite what is best for public health."

"ICE's arbitrary new policy is irrational and xenophobic, and risks the health of students, faculty, and staff," the lawmakers wrote. "We urge you to rescind this proposed policy immediately and to collaborate productively with institutions of higher education to enable a smooth start to the academic year for all students."

The letter came amid President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' aggressive push to resume in-person classes across the U.S. in the fall despite warnings from teachers, parents, and public health experts that doing so without a concrete safety plan in place could endanger students and faculty.

"If Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos have proven anything over the past four years, it's that they do not care about students," Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said in a statement Tuesday. "They have zero credibility for how to best support students, and how to re-open classrooms safely."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·


Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·


WHO to Convene Emergency Meeting on Monkeypox Outbreak

Leading public health experts plan to discuss the ongoing outbreak as the number of confirmed cases in the U.K. more than doubled on Friday to 20.

Kenny Stancil ·


Nearly 90,000 Small Businesses in US Expected to Close After Senate GOP Kills Main Street Relief Bill

"The fate of these small businesses," said one advocacy group, "will be tied to those senators who voted down this lifeline today."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo