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Columbia To Pursue Legal Action Against ICE

After promises of defending international students, President Bollinger announces he will pursue legal action against ICE in a statement made by the Office of University Life on July 9th.

Columbia will be joining a coalition of schools to pursue legal action against ICE, a statement from the Office of University Life announced on July 9th. The statement did not specify which universities Columbia will be working with but stated that the university would be working on a friend-of-the-court brief to help with the lawsuit. Whether this is the same lawsuit being filed by MIT and Harvard, announced on July 8th, remains to be seen. A friend-of-the-court (or, amicus curiae) is a party, often an attorney, that offers information to the court that will help clarify laws or bring the court’s attention to cases that may be overlooked. The message stated that “Columbia’s brief will focus on the important and essential contributions that international students make to our intellectual and social life as a University community, and on the ways in which these new restrictions undermine the exchange of ideas that is the cornerstone of American higher education.” The full text of the statement is pasted below.

On the same day the university released its statement, President Bollinger made a guest appearance on NPR’s All Things Considered to talk about the University’s position on the new ICE regulations concerning International Students. When asked whether Columbia had any plans of offering to its international student body a weekly in-person seminar class so as to “technically meet (ICE’s) requirement of not being online,” President Bollinger responded that the university remains unclear on whether they would take such measures. “Even if (we could arrange an in-person seminar),” President Bollinger queried, “there is still a problem of, do we really want to make it so difficult for international students to be in the United States?” President Bollinger continued to make further critiques on ICE regulations, saying that this was a “policy…directed at punishing universities that decided to go online, as if to force them to be in person.”

These actions follow multiple promises made by President Bollinger on opposing harmful immigration policy. In an email on July 2nd, Bollinger stated that he “cannot overstate how strongly [he] disagree[s] with these new restrictions” and he is “certainly committed on Columbia’s behalf to opposing restrictive immigration policies.” In an email sent July 8th, he again stated that Columbia “must continue to vigorously oppose immigration policies that damage Columbia, higher education, the national interest, and the international students, researchers, and faculty who immeasurably enrich our institution and the intellectual and personal experiences of each of us.”

While President Bollinger has made it very clear both in his emails and interviews that the university stands against new ICE regulations, there are still no specific plans that have been announced with regards to just how the university intends to protect international students. 

Whether Barnard will pursue similar action remains unclear. In a message sent to students on July 8th, President Beilock stated that “Barnard stands steadfastly in opposition to this new immigration guidance and we are taking action in pressing government leaders for change,” but what those actions may be was not specified. On her personal Twitter account, President Beilock responded to a Tweeter asking Barnard to file a lawsuit, but no concrete actions have been announced. The full statement from Barnard is pasted below. 

Update 7/13/20:

This afternoon, President Beilock announced that Barnard College joined an amicus brief “supporting  Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit against the ICE restrictions.” Beilock also sent letters herself to “our representatives in Congress,” and she signed letters lead by the American Council of Education and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The full updated statement from Barnard is pasted below.


Statement from Columbia

Columbia, together with other leading colleges and universities, is currently at work on a friend-of-the-court brief to be filed in the legal challenge to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s newest federal rules, which pose significant limitations on international students.

As President Bollinger said in his message to the community, these regulations, which deny visas to international students whose courses are all online, are severely disruptive to the lives and well-being of our international students and damaging to our University.

Columbia’s brief will focus on the important and essential contributions that international students make to our intellectual and social life as a University community, and on the ways in which these new restrictions undermine the exchange of ideas that is the cornerstone of American higher education.

The deadline for filing the brief has not yet been set.  We will update this message when more information is available. 

President Bollinger’s message also addressed what Columbia will do now, as this litigation is ongoing:

First, as the University and each of our deans continue to make decisions about the structure of course offerings for the coming academic year, we must endeavor to configure hybrid classes providing in-person and remote learning options that alleviate the negative effect of these new regulations on Columbia students; we want our international students to be able to complete their studies here, if at all possible. Second, for the large community of international students who cannot come to Columbia because of the pandemic, we will be adapting our network of Columbia Global Centers and creating Pop-Up Global Centers in new locations to provide in-person academic and peer engagement. And, third, as I stated last week, we must continue to vigorously oppose immigration policies that damage Columbia, higher education, the national interest, and the international students, researchers, and faculty who immeasurably enrich our institution and the intellectual and personal experiences of each of us.

International students can be in touch with the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO) for more information. Please also make use of the resources on University Life’s website whenever you need them, and counseling services, which continue to be available throughout the summer, on the Morningside and Medical Center campuses. 


Statement from Barnard

Dear F-1 Students and Other Concerned Members of the Barnard Community,

We write to follow up on the email you received yesterday from Dean Garay and Associate Provost DiMauro to express our support for you and to assure you that we are committed to your continued success at Barnard.

We are deeply concerned by ICE’s new guidance for international students on F-1 visas. These restrictions on online learning during a continuing public health crisis, along with those recently put in place for non-immigrant work visas such as the H1-B, run counter to the College’s core mission of providing the highest-quality education across the arts and sciences to promising and high-achieving young women. The diversity of experiences and worldviews represented on our campus is a fundamental tenet of our academic excellence, and we know that this simply wouldn’t exist without international students and faculty. Barnard stands steadfastly in opposition to this new immigration guidance and we are taking action in pressing government leaders for change.

Please know that Barnard is fully committed to supporting you as we navigate this new challenge and the difficulties and uncertainties it provokes. As I wrote to the Barnard community yesterday, our classes will be offered online to facilitate remote learning. However, many classes will also offer simultaneous in-person instruction. We, along with the Barnard faculty, are committed to ensuring that you get the in-person class time that is required should you choose to study in the U.S. during the coming academic year.

As individuals and as an institution, we echo Associate Provost DiMauro and Dean Garay’s pledge to support you every step of the way, advising and guiding you individually to determine the best way forward in supporting your academic hopes and aspirations.

Most sincerely,

Sian Leah Beilock, President

Linda A. Bell, Provost & Dean of the Faculty

Leslie N. Grinage, Dean of the College


Updated statement from Barnard as of 7/13/20

Dear Barnard Community,

Last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced restrictions on F-1 visa-holding international students, specifically calling into question their ability to take classes remotely and continue their academic and employment pursuits in the United States.

As Provost Bell, Dean Grinage, and I wrote last Wednesday, the diversity of experiences and worldviews represented on our campus is a fundamental tenet of our academic excellence. International students and faculty are critical to that diversity. The College is deeply opposed — in the strongest possible terms — to this new guidance, which strikes at the heart of our mission and identity. We are simultaneously pressing government leaders for change while working with international students who choose (and are able) to study in the U.S. on their specific in-person course schedules. 

The College joined an amicus brief with 58 other institutions of Higher Education supporting Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit against the ICE restrictions. I have also sent letters to our representatives in Congress and signed on to letters to Congress spearheaded by the American Council of Education (ACE) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Dean Wendy Garay, who leads our Office of International Student Services, is available to work with our international students on their individual educational plans. I am heartened by the number of Barnard faculty who have reached out since the regulations were announced with offers to teach and support our students in any way that is helpful. I urge any international student with specific questions about their courses to contact Dean Garay at iss@barnard.edu.

Giorgio DiMauro, Associate Provost for International Initiatives and Special Projects, is also working closely with the Columbia Global Centers and possible Pop-Up Centers to provide academic opportunities and programming for our international students who stay in their home countries and study remotely for some or all of next academic year. Students are welcome to reach out to Mr. DiMauro as well at global@barnard.edu.

Our international students (and faculty and staff) are not only an integral part of the Barnard community, their contributions have strengthened our academic environment in marked ways. These new restrictions, as well as those recently enacted for non-immigrant work visas (e.g., H1-B), hurt our collective pursuit of academic excellence, which flourishes when a wealth of backgrounds and perspectives are represented on our campus. We are committed to supporting our international community in spirit and action.

Together,

Sian Leah Beilock, President

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4 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous And he will lose.

    Foreign students have long been required to take a “full course of study” to fulfill visa requirements. The longstanding rule is that a study may take only one online class per semester as part of the full course of study. ICE *may* allow a student to take more than one online course, but any additional course must be taken in the physical presence of a university employee. Here is the DHS webpage from 2012, in the Obama years:

    An F-1 student may only count one online or distance education course without the physical oversight of a school employee (or the equivalent of three credits) toward a full-course of study per academic term. F-1 students may be eligible to take more than one online class to maintain their status as long as the class is physically proctored or monitored by a school employee.
    ICE waived the rule for the Spring and Summer 2020 semesters due to the Covid emergency. Given that Congress has now had four months to address the issue but has not, it’s not clear that ICE would be legally justified in asserting a continuing “emergency” that would allow it to ignore a binding regulation.

    In any event, given that the regulation is clear that foreign students may not stay in the U.S. on student visas if they are taking online only classes, and given that universities knew they may have to go all online this Fall, why are so many university “leaders” acting like the government actually enforcing the rule once the immediate emergency has passed is a complete surprise? Surely it was *possible* that ICE would agree to continue to not enforce a rule, but surely any decent university lawyer would have understood that it was not a certainty, and would have been advising the provost to make contingency plans for foreign students.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous This aged poorly tbh

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Typical Trump move. Promise something then cuck out. Argument still stands.

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous How has the core argument become invalidated over time? And can you do explain how without applying some variant of the inverse fallacy? The fact that the administration did their usual bait and switch does not change the fact that the underlying argument was correct.

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