A directive from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that will affect international student study in the United States, has come under fire from universities across the country, including several in the Hudson Valley.

What You Need To Know

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement, on July 6, said students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.
  • Students attending an institution using an online and in-person model, will only be allowed to take one three credit class, online.
  • The amicus brief filed by the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration is just one of many attempts by U.S. higher education to prevent these new directives from being enforced.

"We were shocked, stunned, really," said Vassar College President Dr. Elizabeth Bradley, her reaction on new directives from ICE indicating international students cannot take a full online course load and remain in the country.

"Just cruel, from our perspective, from my perspective. It really is uncalled for. Not very good policy and also inhumane," she said.

The state department will also not issue visas to students who are enrolled in online study, even if those programs shifted online in response to the public health crisis.

"Our international students are an incredibly vibrant and important part of our college. They're important to the faculty, the curriculum, to our peers, they're important to me personally, and I plan on doing absolutely everything we can to support them, whatever shall come," Bradley said.

Vassar is one of 180 schools, under the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The suit seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent those guidelines from being enforced.

Executive Director of the Alliance, Miriam Feldblum, said in a written statement: "This quasi–international student ban represents another unfortunate assault by the administration against immigrants and higher education—a ban made especially disappointing given SEVP’s former guidance that promoted and recognized the need for flexibility amidst a global pandemic."

Bradley said Vassar stands in support of schools that will find it especially difficult to reopen safely.

"We remain in solidarity with those colleges like Harvard and Yale, that are in the middle of big cities that are enormous and it's really not safe to be having in person classes ... because it's an emergency situation in this pandemic," she said.

The hearing on a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction will take place in Boston on Tuesday.