International students still feel pressure, even after ICE restrictions are lifted

Oregon State University, alongside 19 other universities, launched a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security for a new rule requiring international students to take at least one in-person class to remain eligible for their visa. A day after the lawsuit was filed, the government subsequently rescinded the order.

While the ICE restrictions for international students have been lifted, some international students still feel pressured by the ruling. Oregon State University community members are showing their support for international students. 

On July 6, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that students taking only online classes this fall 2020 should return to their country of residence. 

After the initial ICE ruling, Olivia McFarlane, a second-year business management student, started a petition asking Oregon State University to create a class for international students that meets the Student and Exchange Visitor Program requirements implemented by ICE. As of publication, the petition reached over 3,770 signatures. 

“I knew that I had to use my privilege to speak out for those who have been silenced. I know people who are afraid to speak out in fear of deportation, so I did this for them. I do not have to make a choice whether my classes are in person or not, and even if I did, it wouldn’t affect my living situation,” McFarlane said via email. “I deeply believe that these students have as much right to be here as I do. Especially given the fact that international students pay much higher tuition rates.”

Two days after the ICE ruling, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and days later several universities like Oregon State University joined the initiative. As a result, the Trump administration announced that ICE would rescind the student visa ruling.

Beste Olcer, a fourth-year industrial engineering student from Turkey, said she traveled to the U.S. to study, and because she thought it would be great to expose herself to another culture beside her own. She said she has not seen her family for a year, and she canceled her plans to visit them because she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to come back to the U.S. to finish her studies. 

“I was going to go see my family before the regulations from ICE. COVID-19 is challenging as it is, along with online classes and the stress of being away from family during these hard times,” Olcer said in an email.

Noah Chamberlain, staff attorney at Access the Law Legal Services said even though the new ICE restrictions have been rescinded, he wants to remind students that the ASOSU Office of Legal Services is always open to students. 

“Any student that is unable to return to their country of origin should consult with our office as soon as possible to discuss available options,” Chamberlain said via email. “Our office is positioned to help all students facing this dilemma, evaluate their legal remedies and solutions where available.”

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