Takeaway: We stand in solidarity with our international students and graduate worker colleagues as they face a new threat from the Trump administration: a policy from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that would jeopardize the visa status of students studying and working at Rutgers and other US universities. Our union, along with the national American Federation of Teachers (AFT), will oppose this destructive measure, and we will demand that Rutgers becomes a sanctuary campus that protects all members of the community. Please add your name to this petition opposing the new ICE policy.
The Trump administration has announced a revised policy for students on F-1 and M-1 visas that further restricts the conditions under which they can maintain their status. The new policy from ICE revokes exceptions to visa requirements implemented in the spring that allowed international students to take all their classes online. If implemented, this cruel measure will simultaneously add to the administration’s persecution of international students and workers, while intensifying its reckless drive to pressure schools and campuses to reopen in person in the fall, jeopardizing our health and safety.
It appears from the ICE announcement that the new rule would invalidate the visas and legal status of international students attending US schools that are online-only in the fall. International students attending schools with a hybrid model in the fall (which is what Rutgers has announced) would not be able to take their full course load online. Students who traveled to their home country because of the pandemic and who plan to study and work remotely during the fall are likely to encounter challenges to their employment and visa status. Students and staff who are living in the United States would face pressure to take courses and work on campus, putting our entire community’s health and safety at risk. However, as the complete policy has not yet been published, it is still unclear what the full impact of these changes will be on international students.
The AFT’s attorneys are following developments and will continue to update us with advice on how international students and the union should strategically respond. The policy will eventually be published in the Federal Register; the final version may provide additional information. The AFT will strongly oppose the new policy, including participating in or initiating lawsuits challenging it.
Here at Rutgers, our unions will stand in solidarity with students, staff, and faculty, supporting them in every way we can. This is about more than justice for our students and colleagues; education and research at Rutgers would grind to a halt if this rule is enforced, so we expect to work with President Holloway and the administration to challenge it and mitigate any effects.
As Nancy Cantor, chancellor of the Newark campus, wrote in a message this morning, “International students are essential members of our academic community, bringing perspectives and experiences to every aspect of our work and our lives on campus and in our communities that are indispensable to our intellectual and personal growth. We are fully committed to finding solutions to the present situation reflecting that integral role in the fabric of our community and our caring for international students as irreplaceable members of the Rutgers-Newark family.” We urge the administration as a whole to embrace Chancellor Cantor’s message and approach. We propose that Rutgers embrace shared governance and mutual accountability by inviting international TAs and GAs from our union to participate in formulating the university’s vigorous response.
We need to learn more details about the Trump administration’s action and will respond accordingly. In the meanwhile, we hope all of you will sign this petition opposing ICE’s new policy—and find whatever ways you can to show our international students that we will support them. If you are an international student and would like to discuss your specific information, contact your union at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also watch our recent visa webinar about the earlier executive order affecting J-1 scholars and workers; it provides a great deal of information but does not cover the recent attack on F-1 students.
Todd and Becky
Todd Wolfson, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Rebecca Givan, Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
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Find the latest messages to members and union statements here.
Read how Rutgers AAUP-AFT is confronting the crisis here.