Trump administration reverses restrictions on international students

Emily Morris, Managing Editor

International students across the country were uncertain about their residence when the Trump administration introduced a policy that divided education and health in early July.

Shortly after, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed lawsuits against the Trump administration, which was backed by other institutes — including Oakland University.

“This includes many students that come from countries where freedom of speech is not a thing,” Claudia Marques-Molina, an international student at OU, said. “So even after moving here — to a country where that is supposed to be a constitutional right — they don’t feel entitled to speaking up and voicing their needs, which really benefits ICE’s arbitrary and inconsiderate rulings.” 

Late afternoon on Tuesday, July 14, their voices were heard. 

The policy that weighed on many international students will be paused for the impending school year. This development comes a week after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) introduced that online classes posed a risk to international students’ residency in the United States. 

“I certainly expected this rescinding of the visa rules for international students  which were nothing but cruel and punitive  not to mention, made with neither rhyme nor reason,” said Lily Mendoza, associate professor of culture and communication.

Many classes were moved online to encourage social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and any international students with predominantly online classes risked deportation.

If a student were to be deported, there could be “an infinitely diverse set of cases,” including losing access to their university’s portal (some countries have restricted internet access), unreliable or unavailable internet access or financial strain, according to Marques-Molina. 

Oakland University announced a hybrid learning approach for the 2020-2021 school year, which already offered some in-person classes to the 1,100 international students on campus.  

While the rescind of the policy is a comfort to current international students, the Trump administration still intends to impose the guidelines on new students though. Any international students who planned on beginning their post-secondary education in the U.S. this fall will be restricted indefinitely.   

President Ora Pescovitz assured that Oakland University stands with international students. As hybrid learning unfolds further, she promised that OU will be able to “protect” its international students and most students will be able to have at least one in-person class this year. 

“We welcome our international students to Oakland University,” Pescovitz said. “They’re an important part of our diverse population, and they contribute mightily to making Oakland University the vibrant and exciting campus that we are.”