Tuesday, July 14, 2020

UI College of Education faculty, The Gazette

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement reveal cracks in U.S. institutions and a need to refocus our collective energy on human rights — especially when policies target vulnerable community members. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s announcement on July 6 revealed the federal government’s willingness to hurt international students.

The memo requires international students to enroll in face-to-face or hybrid classes (online + face-to-face), or they will be banned from the U.S. Unlike spring semester policy, ICE expects international students to exit the country if a university switches to a virtual-only format. This ICE protocol places a terrible burden on students who came to the U.S. to learn and contribute to our universities. It hurts not only students, but all of us.

Last year Iowa’s colleges and universities enrolled 12,624 international students. Their educational participation accounts for $409.7 million spent in our state. Most international students (8,276) attend one of the two research universities — the University of Iowa or Iowa State University.

In the case of the UI, 16.9 percent of its graduate students are international students. UI’s world-class academic programs attract students from across the globe to Iowa. In 2019, Hawkeyes hailed from 108 countries, and stand out as their nations’ most talented individuals in their academic fields. They leave the familiarity of home to share their exceptional talents and perspectives, and to work alongside stellar faculty and the top U.S. students. International students’ contributions expand how we investigate and use science to address global issues. The exclusion of international students’ efforts will significantly slow the pace of essential research — the exact opposite of what the U.S. needs when it is time for an “all hands on deck” approach to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic as a health, social and economic matter that has grave and dire consequences.