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Local international students concerned over ICE fall semester restrictions

Posted at 10:18 PM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 21:30:56-04

AKRON, Ohio — Fall 2020 policies for international students put in place by the Department of Homeland Security have generated plenty of frustration and concern from Northeast Ohio international students and college faculty.

The policy essentially will not allow international students to take only on-line course here in the U.S. this coming fall semester, and will only allow students to stay in the U.S. if they take in-classroom instruction.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement releasing an FAQ on the new policy, which explained the new guidelines were established to reduce international travel in an effort to reduce COVID-19 concerns.

Former international student Krittika Grau, who is now an international student career adviser at Kent State, told News 5 as a former student, she believes forcing students to leave the country if they don't return to the classroom places an unfair burden on students, and doesn't really provide significant COVID-19 prevention.

“You are telling these students to just drop everything and leave, and that is not okay, that is cruel," Grau said.

“Students have leases, they have lives, they have car payments, they have friends and family.”

“And now the thought of possibly having to transfer to another university, or find other options is extremely daunting to these students."

“This is forcing an international student currently living in the United States to have to choose between their health or possibly facing deportation.”

“You’re asking them to travel and go back home in the middle of a pandemic.”

“It’s a terrible policy with no time for anyone to prepare.”

Karl Kaltenthale, political studies professor with the University of Akron, told News 5 the policy creates a lot of uncertainty, and a variety of issues.

“They have to go home fairly quickly, it’s not clear what their options are once they get home," Kaltenthaler said.

“It leaves a lot of people in limbo, students, faculty, administrators."

“There’s issues with research that can’t be continued because these students aren’t around physically, there is the contribution that they make to the local economies.”

The policy caused MIT and Harvard Universities to file a lawsuit against the federal government claiming the order came down without notice and was designed to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without considering the health and safety of students and staff.

News 5 reached out to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about the policy, but it said it could not comment due to pending litigation.