Foreign students in US fear deportation

NEW YORK: Hundreds of thousands of foreigners enrolled in American universities are now fearing for their future after Donald Trump's administration threatened to revoke their visas.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced this week that foreign students whose entire courses have moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic must return to their home country.

"I might be affected if they don't offer any sort of in-person class," said Pakistani student Taimoor Ahmed, an information technology student at Cal State University in Los Angeles.

Harvard and MIT launched a lawsuit Wednesday, asking the court to revoke the order that Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said had thrown higher education in the US "into chaos."

But the action has done little to alleviate the worries of foreign students, of which there were more than one million in the United States in 2019, a doubling in 20 years, according to the Institute of International Education (IEE).

"I'm kind of scared actually," said an Indian graduate student at a major Texas university, who asked not to be named.

He planned to continue with online classes in autumn but is now obliged to return to the campus -- in a state where Covid-19 cases are soaring -- or face deportation.

Some 84% of universities are planning to offer a hybrid system of in-person and online classes, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education website, which would save students from deportation.

Many students fear a resurgence of the pandemic later this year, though, which could see all classes moved online, forcing them to leave the country.

Students are not the only ones concerned: the universities themselves are worried that Trump's immigration policies are making their institutions less attractive.

They fear losing foreign students to cheaper colleges in Europe.

Related search: foreign students, students, coronavirus pandemic, face deportation

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Writer: Gary Boyle
Position: Writer