July 14, 2020

ICE Rescinds Directive on International Students

Dear SMC Colleagues and Students,

Yesterday, I wrote to inform you about Santa Monica College’s advocacy efforts on behalf of our international students in light of the July 6 federal directive that would have stripped their visas if the college courses they took in the U.S. were all virtual/online. Today, I am pleased to report a major victory! In federal court in Boston, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the rescission of the directive that would bar international students taking online-only courses from residing in the United States. ICE will revert back to the guidance it issued in March—amid the COVID-19 pandemic—that allows students taking online courses to reside in the United States on F-1 visas, and students studying from their home countries to also maintain their F-1 status from abroad. (Read California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley’s statement on the rescission here). Although the action was taken in a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we believe that the lawsuit filed by the California Attorney General influenced this wonderful, swift outcome. Yesterday, with substantial support from Santa Monica College, the California Attorney General filed a 247-page motion to enjoin the July 6 Directive, demonstrating that the July 6 ICE action was legally unsupportable. (Read the motion State Motion for Preliminary Injunction). Again, this is a victory for SMC, for U.S. higher education overall, and is evidence of ongoing support for international students. But most of all, it is a well-deserved recognition of the value of international students who enrich the Santa Monica College community and make it a tapestry of true global diversity.

Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D.