Northwestern University has issued a strong statement backing its international students in the wake of a Trump administration order which could force some out of the country, and prevent others from entering.

The order, from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, comes when institutions like Northwestern are deciding what percentage of classes will be offered online, and what percentage in person, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ICE says if an international student is scheduled for online classes only, ihe or she will have to leave the United States, or transfer to another school which offers in-person courses. “If not,” the ICE order states, such students “may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

And ICE says the US will not issue visas for international students to enter the United States if the school they plan to attend will have online courses only.  Such international students, as well as any who are forced to leave the US, could still take remote classes from their overseas home.

Northwestern had about 1,300 international students admitted for the Fall 2019 quarter, and has received approximately 1,000 immigration documentation requests for incoming international students for the 2020-2021 school year so far, with more requests coming in daily, the school says.

In a statement, Annelise Riles, associate provost for global affairs, says, “We remain fully committed to ensuring that international students are able to study at Northwestern both remotely and in person this year.”

Riles says Northwestern is ramping up research programs, and “since there will be research and a number of in-person classes, most international students will remain eligible to study on our campus this academic year, and we’ll be taking steps to ensure that our international students are in compliance with the new policy.”

She says international students bring expertise, diversity, and a global outlook to Evanston and the University, and are “part of what makes our community so special.” As of February, 2020, before the COVID spike, about 10% undergraduates and 32% graduate students at NU were from other countries.

Riles says Northwestern “remains committed to supporting” the international students “in every way possible.  A Wildcat is a Wildcat,” she says, “no matter their nationality.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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