SIU System President Dan MahonyCARBONDALE - SIU System President Dan Mahony, U.S. Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, and multiple others released comments today in favor of the federal government's decision Tuesday that changed its policy on international students.

President Trump's administration on Tuesday rescinded a policy that would have stripped visas from international students whose courses move exclusively online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mahony said on behalf of the Southern Illinois University System, he wanted to extend appreciation to leaders in our higher education community, advocacy organizations and elected officials at the state and federal level who successfully advocated for rescinding of the ICE directive that would have stifled the university's ability to provide full educational opportunities to our international students.

"Last spring, the SIU System welcomed over 1,200 international students to our campuses and over the majority of the life of our system, international students have provided an incredible richness that has added to both the academic and the cultural success of our campuses, state and nation," Mahony said. "Now was not the time to close our doors to those who contribute both academically and economically to our communities. We appreciate the efforts of all our elected officials who joined us in this effort."

The decision after the policy announcement last week sparked a flurry of litigation, including a joint suit by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who joined 18 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit, along with the beginning of a suit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), followed by California's public colleges among other challenges.

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and officials who represent public and private universities throughout the 13th Congressional District support the Trump Administration’s decision to rescind guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs (ICE) that threatened the legal status of tens of thousands of international students studying at Illinois colleges and universities.
“Thousands of international students travel from across the world to central and southwestern Illinois every year to seek a world class education at the public and private universities in the 13th District,” said Rep. Davis. “These hardworking students are the best and brightest from their countries, and they help our communities grow both culturally and economically. I’m glad the Trump administration made the right decision and rescinded this guidance because universities should have as much flexibility as possible in determining how their students receive instruction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. International students deserve to stay in their university towns if they choose, regardless of how they receive their class instruction, whether that’s online or in-person.”
“Thousands of international students travel from across the world to central and southwestern Illinois every year to seek a world class education at the public and private universities in the 13th District,” said Rep. Davis. “These hardworking students are the best and brightest from their countries, and they help our communities grow both culturally and economically. I’m glad the Trump administration made the right decision and rescinded this guidance because universities should have as much flexibility as possible in determining how their students receive instruction in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. International students deserve to stay in their university towns if they choose, regardless of how they receive their class instruction, whether that’s online or in-person.”
These are statements by the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Illinois Wesleyan presidents:
“The guidance announced by ICE on July 6 created needless uncertainty and anxiety for universities and international students as we prepare for fall semester. We applaud the efforts of Rep. Rodney Davis in standing up for international students, who contribute so much to the U of I System and the state,” said University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen.
"I am very pleased to hear the news that under pressure from higher education institutions, elected officials, and a host of others, the federal government has rescinded the July 6 rule blocking international students from staying in the U.S. while taking online-only courses," said Illinois State University President Larry Dietz. "This news is a great relief to Illinois State University and to colleges and universities across the country who greatly value international students at their institutions."
“Illinois Wesleyan University values scholars of all backgrounds and nationalities as important members of our academic environment, where we seek to prepare all students to become thoughtful, participatory members of a global society. We are pleased to see that this unfair order has been rescinded and that our international students can fully participate in their educational endeavors. I thank Congressman Davis for his efforts to get this needed change accomplished,”said Illinois Wesleyan University President, Dr. S. Georgia Nugent.
The guidance, issued by ICE on July 6, 2020, would have required international students who are F-1 visa-holders to leave the country if their college or university moved to online-only instruction. ICE also threatened immigration status proceedings for students who do not leave the country.
Rep. Davis led a group of lawmakers in opposing the ICE guidance in a letter that was sent to the Acting Director of ICE on Tuesday.
Also signing the letter were Reps. Rob Woodall, Brian Fitzpatrick, John R. Curtis, Peter T. King, Pete Olson, Tom Reed, Tom Cole, Fred Upton, Steve Stivers, David P. Joyce, Adam Kinzinger, Frank D. Lucas, Elise Stefanik and Don Bacon.
Rep. Davis has spoken on the House floor in support of international students and the contributions they make to our country.
In 2019, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolled 10,577 international students from 116 different countries. Illinois State University enrolled 502 students from 73 countries. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville enrolled 368 international students from 24 countries.
Raoul and the other attorneys general called the decision "cruel, abrupt and unlawful action" to expel international students amidst the pandemic.

"Announcing this rule in the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic created additonal confusion and upheaval for students and universities already facing uncertainty caused by the pandemic," Attorney General Raoul said.

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