Re: “International students can’t stay here if their college goes all-online, ICE says” [July 6, Education Lab]:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students already in the U.S. face expulsion from the country if their schools transitioned to an all-online program. This reversal of policy is cruel — without benefiting Americans, it endangers all students.

I am a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the University of Washington, attending on an F-1 visa. Students like myself, who have worked hard in their studies for several years, face expulsion through no fault of their own. There is no gain to American citizens, either. We pay city, state and federal taxes like other persons in the U.S. and contributed $41 billion to the economy in 2018. It is difficult for visitors on student visas to obtain full-time employment, so our impact on the recovery of jobs will be minimal. We want to help the economic healing of our host country, not hinder it.

However, by far the worst aspect of this policy is its endangerment of the lives of students, domestic and international. No university wants to lose a large portion of its student body and thus its funding, and so universities will pressured to offer in-person classes, even when it is not safe to do so. The inflexibility of this ICE policy takes away from universities a key weapon in the fight against the coronavirus.

Moe Kayali, Seattle