Press Release

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on Trump Administration’s Decision to Force International Higher Education Students to Attend In-Person Classes

For Release: 

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Sarah Hager Mosby

WASHINGTON—Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on the Trump administration’s decision to force immigrant students—who comprise about 5.5 percent of overall U.S. higher education enrollment and contributed more than $40 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2019-2020 academic year—into face-to-face classes only, or risk deportation:

“As our country faces three major crises—a public health crisis, an economic crisis and a racial justice crisis—the Trump administration has chosen to use international students as cover to further its xenophobic and racist aims. At every turn, Donald Trump has attacked the status of immigrants in this country—whether they are permanent or temporary residents; work-, school- or family-based; documented or undocumented.

“Telling students and universities to decide between safety and deportation is callous, cruel and economically counterproductive. This will damage our educational institutions, which are critical economic drivers for many regions of this country. And as these institutions, and our members who work at them, face catastrophic budget cuts and uncertain enrollment—needing federal and state support now more than ever—the administration’s single-minded focus on prosecuting a policy of nativism does nothing but sow misery for individuals and threaten higher education’s contribution to the common good.

“We call on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Trump administration to rescind their new directions on visas for international students. Our international students and colleagues should know we are committed to fighting this cruelty and will pursue every avenue necessary, including legal recourse, to make their continued enrollment in their schools possible.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.