International students face potential deportation, local university takes steps to prevent it

When school begins in the fall, some international students in the U.S. may be at risk of deportation if their universities switch to online class only. This is due to new modifications announced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.

As of now, around 70 international students are enrolled at UW La Crosse for the fall semester.

Many of which are scrambling after new modifications for students by ICE were released. The statement says that international students, “attending schools entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”

ICE says the international students need to take an in person class or a hybrid option. And UWL says their international students should be in the clear.

“What we’re telling them what was issued is, immediately could affect the colleges that have declared that they’re going fully online in the fall. And UWL’s not doing that,” said Emelee Volden, the Director of International Education and Engagement at UWL. “Because we’re planning for a blended model of introduction, a hybrid of online and in person, we’re okay and our students are okay if this is published as regulations.”

The modification has not yet officially been set in stone.

“What was shared on Monday by ICE now is only guidance, it’s not published policy,” said Volden.

But it is not something universities are fond of.

“We’re hoping, we’re praying, we’re wishing it could be reversed,” said Volden.

Other universities across the country, like Harvard and MIT have issued lawsuits against the Trump Administration regarding the modifications. But ICE would allow students to stay enrolled in only online school if they are in their home countries.

Volden’s biggest worry is for students not having access to all the schooling necessities in their home countries.

“There are many challenges and barriers for students in certain locations.. they might not be able to do that. That’s where this potential regulation could be very detrimental and inhibiting a few students from continuing their education,” said Volden.

These necessities include lack of technology, access to internet in their home country and the ability to contact UWL tech support.  Volden says if an international student is currently enrolled in all online classes for the fall semester, they will be working with the student to get them enrolled into an in person or hybrid course to abide by the new ICE rules.