WCFIA Letter in Support of Our Students in Response to the ICE Press Release

July 9, 2020
Dear Members of the Weatherhead Community,
 
Earlier this week, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) issued unexpected and disheartening guidance that international students would be required to return home if their colleges and universities offered online-only courses this fall.
 
These guidelines risk public health by pressuring universities to hold additional in-person classes, even in the case of a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, if they want their international students to remain in the US. The guidelines also seek to limit the global reach and international character that make Harvard and the Weatherhead Center—and so many campuses across the US—so vibrant.
 
In the face of such callous guidelines, we support the effort by Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to temporarily prohibit the enforcement of these guidelines.
 
Our learning community is enriched by students who come from around the world. This is true in both our regular workshops/seminars and in virtual settings. The Harvard Office of International Education shares the school’s careful plans for a safe, effective return to campus for the fall semester. We recognize that we must be flexible in how we move forward based on the uncertainties of COVID-19, and follow the most current public health guidelines. Yet, we also refuse to stand by idly and have our students harmed by capricious and ill-willed policies.
 
The Weatherhead Center is here to support our students. We are deploying emergency resources to help them achieve their research goals. We also take seriously our roles as advisors, colleagues, and friends. Please join us  in reaching out and supporting anyone affected by this ICE guidance.
 
Sincerely,
 
Michèle Lamont
Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies
Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies
Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
 
Theodore J. Gilman, PhD
Executive Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs