On July 10th, MSA President Anthony Tretter sent the following letter to the Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Matthew Albence. The letter was also sent to the Acting Director of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf.
“Dear Deputy Director Albence:
As the upcoming academic year quickly approaches for many universities across our nation, I write to you today to express my sincere concern about the impending changes to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program.
At the University of Missouri, over 110 countries are represented within our student body that could be affected by changes to the F-1 visa program.
As the impact of COVID-19 continues to change the landscape of collegiate education, students are coping with making difficult decisions regarding what is best for their education and health. The changes listed within the ICE release on July 6th are troubling and incite fear and uncertainty for tens of thousands of students who attend universities in the United States.
While I understand the important role ICE plays in maintaining our national security, this policy does not represent those interests. These changes entirely ignore the complexities of COVID-19 and how it may have an impact on different states and their communities in the fall semester. Universities should have the ability to work with public health officials and experts in order to make the best judgement for their students and faculty. This policy entirely undermines that ability while endangering the well-being of international students and their commitment to their educational goals.
In addition, this policy does not address potential scenarios in which travel restrictions would impact a student’s ability to return to their home country due to COVID-19. The uncertainty created will cause panic and distress for some of the brightest students around the world who seek educational opportunities in our nation.
This vague policy which leaves many concerns and questions unanswered hinders the American ability to seek and recruit the best academic talent around the world. I strongly urge ICE to re-consider the changes to allow international students to continue their education without undue burden should universities have to make the decision to return to an online-only format.
Our international students are an integral part of the University of Missouri and their education deserves to be protected, especially during a public health crisis. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
President, Missouri Students Association”