America is a zit! Get it?

With a nationwide surge in COVID-19 hitting just a few weeks before many colleges and universities begin their fall classes, the Trump administration issued new rules Monday telling international students they cannot stay in the USA if their schools are conducting all classes online this fall. The rule, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, states that students on educational visas

may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.

Students who are currently in the US and attending school that's going fully online for the fall have to get the hell out or face deportation proceedings, unless they "take other measures" like transferring to a school that's holding classes in person, so they can go and risk getting or transmitting the virus.

There is no fucking reason to do this at all. But it's one more excuse for Stephen Miller's crew to restrict immigration, so no matter how bad it is for students and universities, it's well worth doing, even if it ultimately ends up costing American college students higher tuition, since international students are a huge source of revenue for colleges and universities.

Now, existing regulations barred people from attending entirely online schools on student visas, which is no doubt the rationale the administration will use when the new rule is challenged in court. "We're just following the rules!" But those rules were aimed at preventing student visa fraud via fly-by-night "schools" that didn't actually provide an education. When most institutions went to online classes in the spring, the immigration system allowed international students to continue their studies online. Then again, there was less motivation to throw red meat at Donald Trump's anti-immigrant base in the spring.

This fall, freakin' Harvard is going to online-only classes, as is the California State University system. As the Washington Post reports, the sudden announcement yesterday has thrown a bomb into planning for the fall semester for many institutions, which had been asking the administration to continue the flexibility it had shown in the spring and summer sessions. Haha, fat chance, eggheads, this administration hates higher education and it hates foreigns, so this is a twofer!

An outpouring of questions and concerns followed the announcement, with one expert describing blindsided university officials holding emergency conference calls, contacting her on social media and even her son's email address as they frantically sought answers.

They are trying to figure out the impact it might have "in real time," said Lizbet Boroughs, associate vice president of federal affairs at the Association of American Universities, which represents 63 leading research universities in the United States, "because many of our universities are starting in four to five weeks." Many campuses moved up the start of the fall semester in response to the pandemic.

To make matters worse, the ICE announcement only gives institutions until next Wednesday, July 15, to certify whether they'll be going online-only, holding full in-person classes, or some hybrid arrangement. Boroughs told WaPo, "What is just, to me, absolutely staggering is we have been asking for this guidance since April." Haha, sucks to be U!

Immigration lawyer Fiona McEntee told NPR that the new rules, and the chaos they'll cause, seem especially poorly thought out, considering the resurgence of the pandemic:

It's an unprecedented public health crisis, and I don't think it's too much to ask for the allowances that they made to continue, especially given the fact that we clearly, quite clearly do not have a handle on the pandemic here right now, unlike other countries that have," McEntee said. "This makes no sense."

McEntee pointed out that this move will have a noticeable effect on some schools' budgets, too, since educating international students is good business:

According to an economic analysis by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $41 billion and supported 458,290 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year.

McEntee added that losing foreign students is a huge blow to university budgets, something that will impact domestic students as well. Similarly, the decision to attend classes in person impacts all students present.

"If students can study online successfully from an academic point of view, why are we forcing them to come into a situation where they could put their health at risk and also the health of their classmates at risk?" she asked.

Why would we do that? This reply to a Twitter thread yesterday by immigration attorney Aaron Reichlin-Melnick tells you pretty much all you need to know about why:

Well worth throwing things into chaos, and even higher tuition and more possible spread of the virus, just as long as we keep those foreigns from RIPPING US OFF (even if they're a cash cow for universities). If libs are griping about it, it HAS to be good!

International students now face a choice of either finding an in-person school within a month, or preparing to go back home and taking online classes that meet at 3 a.m. for them. That is, if their country's broadband is up to it, and they can get the other resources they need for their classes. For Chinese students, there's also another if: Some tech, like Google's G Suite, is just plain not available. And depending on individual countries' rules, getting home at all could be a challenge due to blanket international travel bans or restrictions on flights from the US, where we are so bad at managing the outbreaks that some countries don't want anyone who's been here coming in.

One thing that will soon be flying? Lawsuits against this latest ill-planned fuckery.

We were struck by this paragraph from WaPo, in which another pointy-headed intellectual expert clearly misses the point of all of this:

Ted Mitchell, the president of the American Council on Education, called the guidelines horrifying, saying it raised more questions than it answered and did more harm than good. "Iron-clad federal rules are not the answer at this time of great uncertainty," he said in a statement.

Horrifying? Inflexible? Raising more questions than answers and causing more harm than good? That's exactly the point, and if Mitchell can't see such a simple truth, that's all the proof you need that America doesn't need out-of-touch academic elites like him.

Now, if some of these foreign students were putting up Confederate statues or waiting tables at Mar-a-Lago, maybe we could find a place for them.

[ICE / NPR / CNN / WaPo / Aaron Reichlin-Melniklin-Melnik on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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