In an email sent to the student body earlier this afternoon, Pomona College President G. Gabrielle Starr expressed concern about “the impact upon [Pomona] students of last week’s guidance from ICE about the status of international students on F-1 visas for the fall semester.” The president confirmed that Pomona has joined 20 other colleges in the western United States in “suing the federal government today to block the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from revoking visas for international students whose studies will be entirely online in the fall.” However, the college offered few details on contingency plans in case of the lawsuit’s failure.
Pomona’s aims in filing the lawsuit are to achieve “a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction to stop the July 6 directive from being enforced and its policies from being implemented.” If the directive is enforced, as the email notes, “international students enrolled at an American institution currently offering an online-only course of study would be required to leave the country.” Students at universities offering a hybrid of online and in-person classes, by contrast, will be required to remain in the United States in order to retain their visas. According to the president’s email, this could penalize students who are unable to return to the United States, preventing them “from enjoying many of the benefits that should come with their education, including the ability to do internships or obtain employment authorization in the United States.”
Aside from the lawsuit, Pomona remains vague about policies intended to support international students. The email expressed hope “that the guidance will be reversed,” but as that outcome is far from certain, Pomona is “considering a range of options at the same time, including partnering with other institutions internationally to create options for students already outside the United States and offering a few in-person or hybrid courses for those who need to be [in the country.”
Other prestigious American institutions, including Columbia and NYU, have developed policies to protect international students in the event the July 6 directive is implemented. It remains to be seen whether Pomona and the other Claremont Colleges will follow suit.
UPDATE: In a nearly-identical email to Pomona’s, Scripps College has also confirmed its involvement in the lawsuit against the federal government. Like Pomona, Scripps has yet to establish a concrete policy to support international students should the lawsuit fail.
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