TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Trump Administration has pulled a rule that would have required international students to take in-person classes this fall to stay in the United States. The decision was announced as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a federal lawsuit.
"This was really stressful for me, last week when we heard about it," said Josefina, an international student from Latin America at the University of Arizona.
As many colleges have moved to fully online courses due to COVID-19, the Trump Administration sought to make it mandatory for foreign students to take in-person classes. If this wasn't possible, they would have been required to transfer schools, leave the country or face deportation.
"I used the word panic because that's how I feel when I think about getting sent to one of the detention centers or be deported," Josefina said.
She said going back to her home country wasn't an option because most borders are closed. She also has health concerns that make travel difficult.
"I have been in lock down since this all started because I had a cancer surgery in January," she said. "So I cannot risk it and I would not have been able to fly."
A foreign student from France, Charlene Tramoni, is getting her PHD at the U of A.
"There are labs where all of us are foreign," Tramoni said. "I just don't see how U of A can function without us really."
She's relieved the rule has been rescinded but isn't completely at ease.
"I'm still doing my Plan B and taking classes that are in-person and not in my research interest," she said.
She's avoiding a fully online semester over concerns more rules that impact foreign students could be put in place.
U of A President Robbin C. Robbins released a statement Tuesday evening about the Trump Administration rescinding the rule:
"We are pleased that the Trump administration rescinded this guidance and that international students will not have to choose between their education and their health and safety. This change appropriately recognizes our international students for their perseverance and determination to complete their degree plans. We are very pleased to welcome international students back to the University of Arizona, and we are committed to ensuring they are treated equitably."
The Coalition for Academic Justice UA (CAJUA), a group of graduate, professional students, staff and faculty also released a statement:
“Members of the Coalition for Academic Justice UA are relieved to hear that the Trump administration has rescinded this cruel and ill-advised policy that could have impacted as many as 3,700 graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Arizona, if the UA were to decide to go online in the fall. Our international students contribute to the educational mission of the university in ways that are invaluable. We also are pleased that the UA administration joined a lawsuit to bring a halt to this misguided ICE policy. Members of the Coalition will continue to stand with and support our international students.”