ASI supports international students in resolution, interim president expounds on latest government decision

Graphic provided by ASI

Fresno State Associated Students Inc. (ASI) held an impromptu meeting proposing a resolution in supporting international students and opposing the new guidelines put in place by the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agency on Monday.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that F-1 and M-1 visa holders could potentially face deportation if their universities went to fully-online instruction, they didn’t take the permitted amount of in-person classes, or if their university goes to virtual instruction during the semester if outbreaks occur.

In the resolution, ASI states: “The mission of Fresno State Associated Students Inc. is to assist in the protection of student rights and interests of the student body… International Students and their right to an equitable education through California State University (CSU) are just as important as any and all other CSU students.”

In the resolution ASI’s proposals include: the creation of a system-wide policy for fulfilling the F-1 visa requirements, the streamlining of counseling services for international students, academic plans from all CSU campuses that fulfill F-1 visa requirements and stringent safety measures if classes are added.

According to interim-President Hisham Qutob, Fresno State ASI has been in contact with the other CSU student presidents and the other universities will be proposing similar resolutions in the near future.

ASI also called upon CSU Chancellor Timothy White to use the CSU’s legal resources to help prevent the deportation of any CSU students and to search for legal precedent to challenge ICE’s decision.

“Fresno State Associated Students Inc. calls upon the Chancellor’s office to use the CSU’s legal resources to assess what legal flexibility we have in supporting our students in preventing any deportations for CSU students…”

“Fresno State Associated Students Inc. calls upon the Chancellor’s office to use the CSU’s legal resources to look for legal precedence to challenge ICE’s orders in District Courts; and be it further.”

On Thursday, it was announced that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and White representing the CSU system were filing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration.

Those involved in the lawsuit cite that the policy enacted by ICE on Monday “threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States.”

In a press release it states: “The Trump Administration’s new policy on SEVP [Student and Exchange Visitor Program] flies directly in the face of guidance it previously issued and advertised as being in place for the duration of the pandemic emergency, which universities and students across the country relied upon to make plans for the upcoming school year and protect the safety and well-being of their students.”

Becerra says that it is a shame that the Trump administration is risking not only the educational opportunities for students but now putting their health and well-being at risk.

White also added a statement in strong opposition to ICE’s new policies.

“The California State University stands in the strongest opposition to the policy guidance issued Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” White said. “It is a callous and inflexible policy that unfairly disrupts our more-than 10,300 international students’ progress to a degree, unnecessarily placing them in an extremely difficult position. And it deprives all of our students — and the communities, state, and nation we serve…”

ASI and Qutob are appreciative of the initiative that White took to protect the international students in CSU systems and beyond.

“It is very reassuring to know that we have a chancellor who isn’t afraid to take action to protect our students,” Qutob said. “I am really happy that we are prioritizing our students and excited for the collaboration with the UC and CCC systems.”

Beyond lawsuits, there have been reports that schools are currently working to expand the amount of classes available in-person and adding 1-unit in person classes for those international students to take.

Qutob believes that Fresno State will soon begin finding accommodations for those international students at risk to remain in the U.S.

“I definitely think we should and believe we will,” Qutob said. “I have full faith in our administration and faculty to ensure a welcoming campus and experience for our international students”

In June, Fresno State released its plan for the fall 2020 semester and announced that they will be using the hybrid model (a mixture of online and in-person classes). This method will allow international students to take several in-person classes to stay within the U.S., but only 128 courses are being offered next semester.

With less than a month away, it will be interesting if the CSU system will allow its schools to expand the amount of courses taught in-person and if Fresno State will expand in-person courses. 

Qutob has faith that the current opposition to the federal government’s policies across the nation will lead to a change in policy.

“I personally hope the government responds to the opposition that has been taking place all across the country regarding the rules,” Qutob said.

Now that the resolution has passed, it will be sent to a number of important figures including President Donald Trump, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Diane Feinstein, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Governor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, among others. 

ASI’s full resolution can be read here.

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