Statement and Day of Action in Response to the ICE Policy affecting International Students

Author: Aaron Benavides

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Notre Dame Student Government is spearheading a day of action to defend our international students and fight for their protections. If you are committed to standing in solidarity with and taking action for international members of the Notre Dame family, sign the pledge here and view our action guide

On Monday, July 6th, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that international students with F-1 and M-1 visas “attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.” The policy also states that, for students with F-1 visas, even if their university is adopting a hybrid model of both online and in-person classes, these students may not elect to take a fully-online schedule and remain in the US. 

This xenophobic revocation of protection for students on F-1 and M-1 visas is dangerous to our campus community and educational institutions nationwide. Not only do we acknowledge the intrinsic value of every international student, but we attest to the enrichment that they bring to our collegiate experience. As a Student Government, we are committed to defending the rights of our international students and advocating for their right to safety and security while pursuing their degrees. 

We want to commend the University for their letter to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and their plan to file an amicus curiae brief in support of the court motion by Harvard and MIT to prevent this policy from taking effect. Although Notre Dame is not currently affected by this policy, should classes switch to remote this coming semester, we will urge the University to provide a sanctuary class to ensure our international students would not be deported from the US, as we have seen many other institutions do.

This ICE policy poses a threat to the livelihoods of our international students. Should in-person instruction cease, international students will be forced into the dangerous situation of traveling in the midst of a global pandemic -- traversing populous international hubs and carrying the risk of infecting loved ones once back home. Economically, this poses a burden of paying for flights at a time when scores of families are already financially stricken, and in the event foreign students are cleared to return to the US, additional visa fees will afflict further expense. Professionally, international students may see their future career plans become more precarious, should they miss out on recruiting windows or be unable to fulfill certain post-graduation eligibility requirements, such as being present in the country for two semesters before starting job formal training. 

Effectively, ICE has drawn an artificial divide between international and domestic students on college campuses, a place where all, regardless of origin, are meant to have an equal opportunity to education. Even if our campus retains its planned hybrid model for the semester, international students will be subjected to the terror of deportation on a daily basis, knowing that at any moment their protections may be stripped away. This psychological toll undermines the pursuit of knowledge and justice which is inherent to academic institutions. Furthermore, it hurts the global conversation spurred by an international presence that is such a key tenet of the Notre Dame experience.

Please join us in standing in solidarity with and taking action for international members of the Notre Dame family. Sign the pledge here

Meilin Scanish
Student Government Director of Student Empowerment

Lauryn Pugh
Student Government Director of Academic Affairs

Pascal Ekirapa
Student Government Department of Student Empowerment, Member

Nick Crookston
Student Government Department of Student Empowerment, Member

Rachel Ingal
Student Body President

Sarah Galbenski
Student Body Vice President

Aaron Benavides
Student Government Chief of Staff