Missouri State, Drury react to ICE announcement regarding international students

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 9:11 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Local colleges are reassuring their international students they will be able to attend school this fall.

This comes after US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Monday international students would not be able to stay in the US if their courses are all online due to the pandemic.

Both Drury University and Missouri State University have released statements to their students saying they do not support this change and say they will do whatever they can to ensure students can attend school in Springfield this fall.

“There is that fear that they want to get that education that they can’t get in their country or anywhere else, they want to come here,” said Ali Altahafi.

Altahafi is from Iraq, but is studying Mathematics and Political Science at Drury. He said he is proud of the way his university is handling the situation.

”They’re going to do whatever they can. They even stated that they want the Trump administration and the ICE to rethink their decision,” he said.

Classes at Drury and Missouri State transitioned to online-only at the end of the Spring semester due to the pandemic. International students had the ability to stay here in Springfield or return home. This time, that wouldn’t be the case.

”That’s the main concern a lot of students expressed because in the guidelines from ICE it said if the university starts the semester in-person and switches to an online format, then immediately they would be out-of-status,” said Brad Bodenhausen, the Associate Vice President of Missouri State International Education and Training.

Bodenhausen said the new modifications put university leaders in a tough position.

”Deciding what is best for the health and safety of the campus community versus potentially putting a large number of international students at risk for deportation in the middle of a global pandemic at a very uncertain time,” he said.

The documents released by ICE state that students may remain active in status in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) if they can continue to take their online courses outside of the US.

”But the issue that you’re going to run with is obviously time zones and people may not have Internet, the same kind of internet we have here in the United States,” Altahafi said.

Both Altahafi and Bodenhausen said the new policy would also have a big economic impact on the US.

”It creates a $41 billion impact on the economy,” Bodenhausen said. “This police may make sense from a political standpoint but it doesn’t make any sense from an economic standpoint.”

He said Missouri State has a record number of international students admitted this year, but said very few will be able to go through their visa interviews and get here in time for classes to start.

At Drury, international students make up nearly 10% of their enrollment.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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