​Rep. Maloney Joins with House and Senate Colleagues to Oppose New Student Visa Policy

Jul 10, 2020
Press Release
New Policy Puts America’s International Students at Risk

WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) joined with her House and Senate colleagues in sending three letters to the Trump Administration opposing its changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). This change would penalize students who are enrolled in colleges and universities who. Have moved to distance-learning due to COVID-19 by forcing these students to leave the country. The lawmakers urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to rescind the policy and provide certainty for international students and the higher education community.

In the letters, the lawmakers expressed deep concerns that ICE's guidance is motivated not by public health considerations, but rather by animus toward non-citizens and immigrants and is a flagrant attempt to hold international students hostage in order to force schools to reopen even as COVID-19 cases are rising. The 2018-2019 academic year saw more than one million international students in the United States.

“This policy change by the Trump Administration mere weeks before colleges and universities across the country are set to begin their Fall semesters can only be described as irresponsible. International students both enrich the higher education experience for all students and are a key part of the higher education ecosystem. I call out this policy for what it is: a cruel, senseless, and xenophobic attempt to use non-citizens as political pawns in order to financially coerce colleges and universities to reopen campuses this fall, despite what is best for public health,” said Congresswoman Maloney.

According to State Department data, there are nearly 400,000 holders of F visas and nearly 10,000 holders of M visas in the United States as of last year. 

Due to the Trump Administration's catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to rage throughout the United States, causing many institutions of higher education to move most or all of their courses online to protect their students, faculty, and staff. Some colleges developed these plans in consultation with local public health officials, and these plans are consistent with the CDC's guidance for colleges and universities, which advises them to "offer virtual learning and telework options, if feasible."

Although the Trump Administration is attempting to blame this new guidance on existing regulations, it is failing to preserve or pursue options to provide flexibility to international students and to institutions of higher education. At the same time, recent statements by Administration officials suggest that DHS and ICE released this guidance as a pretext to force institutions of higher education to reopen against the advice of public health experts and local officials.

Full text of the letters can be found herehere, and here.