The federal agency ICE, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, plans to deport college students here on student visas if their school is only offering online courses this fall.

“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” a press release on ICE’s website reads. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.” 

The move, both incredibly cruel and inconvenient, comes as cases of COVID-19 soar across the country and universities roll out their plans to return for the 2020-2021 school year. 

There are a few immediate questions stemming from this announcement: Why? Who does this help? What about students in different time zones? What about students with no access to WiFi abroad? What happens if students get COVID-19 as a result of the forced deportation? 

The announcement quickly prompted backlash, with people criticizing the agency's decision to target international students. 

For the spring and summer semesters, international students were able to take classes online as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. It’s unclear why ICE is now threatening those same students with deportation, but surely the ACLU is gearing up to file a new lawsuit right about now. 

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