The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) expresses grave concern about guidance for international students released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday, July 6. We urge the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Hon. Chad Wolf, to withdraw this guidance immediately.

The impact of this proposed policy will be devastating for our nation’s standing in the world. And it will have an immediate, negative impact on the 17,000 international students who seek the opportunity to study, learn and grow at Jesuit institutions of higher education. Our association of 28 colleges and universities is dedicated to the formation of people for others by fostering Jesuit, Catholic identity and mission; educating for a faith that does justice; and supporting national, international and online collaborations between campuses. Jesuit education is a global endeavor with a centuries-old history of promoting peace, cooperation, reconciliation and justice.

This new guidance comes just months before our schools prepare to re-open for a new academic year, undermining our ability to provide continuity in instruction for international students, and ignoring the realities that colleges and universities are facing in trying to adjust to a landscape that changes by the day. Specifically, it prohibits students from entering the United States if they are taking classes exclusively online; does not provide clear direction for students attending schools adopting a hybrid model; and demands students return home or transfer to a school offering in-person instruction in the event that a school has to pivot to virtual instruction in the face of another deadly outbreak caused by the coronavirus. The guidance does not recognize the critical need for flexibility as we continue to battle a new, virulent and changing disease.

The ICE directive disregards previous guidance issued in the spring that recognized the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic and provided our schools the necessary flexibility to prioritize the academic needs of all students as they transitioned to a virtual learning environment. Moreover, it derails our mission-driven efforts to provide a quality Jesuit education by creating unnecessary and near insurmountable barriers for international students who come to study in the United States. We urge the Administration to rescind the guidance and recognize the contributions of international students to higher education and the nation.