Targeting international students a new low for the U.S.

More than 1 million foreign students face deportation if their universities ban in-student classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



July 9, 2020 - 9:50 AM

University of Texas students Paula Arce, Isabel Llovet, Laura Castro and Bryan Salgado say goodbye to friend and fellow exchange student Isabel Lopez as she departs for Madrid in March amid the coronavirus pandemic. Under new federal visa rules, international students will not be permitted to stay in the country if colleges go completely online this semester. Photo by (Lara Korte/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)

The Trump administration has used the novel coronavirus as license to indiscriminately kill off and impede every sort of immigration — legal and illegal, permanent and temporary, work- and family-based. On Monday, it took aim at the more than 1 million international students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, threatening them with deportation if their classes move online, as many already have.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the announcement as a growing number of colleges, facing a widening pandemic, have shifted entirely or largely to virtual learning for the fall. International students at those institutions, who represent a sizable cohort, will have to go home or transfer to another school that offers in-person classes.

ICE provided no rationale — unsurprising, given that it is unfair and irrational as a matter of policy. But within hours of its announcement, President Trump sought to make school closings into an election issue. Democrats, he claimed on Twitter, want schools closed “for political reasons, not health reasons,” to help them in the fall elections.

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