Supporting Our International Students

July 12, 2020

Members of the SIU System Community:

Recently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) imposed restrictions on international students, directing that visas will not be issued to students enrolled in universities offering online-only course instruction this fall. This applies both to students at universities that have already made the decision to provide online-only education and to those whose university may be forced to return to an online-only format because of the coronavirus, like our SIU campuses did earlier this year. In either case, if this occurs, these students would have to leave the country or transfer to a school offering in-person instruction.

We believe this decision by the federal government will dramatically and negatively impact international students across higher education in the United States. Already, numerous higher education advocacy organizations, of which we are members, have voiced their deep concern and opposition. Additionally, some universities across the country are taking legal action to attempt to reverse the ICE ruling. We want to share with you that the SIU System is joining these efforts in several ways.

First, the SIU System is joining universities in Illinois and across the United States in adding our collective voice through our higher education advocacy organizations to federal elected officials sharing our opposition to this ruling. Second, both campuses are working with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in filing legal declarations in support of the lawsuit challenging the new restrictions. Lastly, we are communicating with our federal elected officials to let them know we oppose this decision and ask them to intervene with the Administration to reverse course on this harmful action.

As you know, the SIU System universities have released reopening plans for the upcoming semester that rely on a mixture of on-campus and online instruction. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus, but we are deeply concerned that this decision by ICE will keep many of our students from beginning or completing their education at one of our campuses. 

Over the majority of the life of our system, international students have provided an incredible richness that has added to both the academic and cultural success of our campuses, state, and nation. Their presence is celebrated as it strengthens the opportunity for everyone under the SIU flag to receive a truly global education. Now is not the time to close our doors to those who contribute so much to our Saluki and Cougar communities. 

Thank you for joining us in standing with this rich tradition.

Daniel F. Mahony