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Immigration Update Event Overview: Advocacy Efforts and Legal Challenges

July 17, 2020

UCI Office of Global Engagement recently hosted an immigration update which discussed the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement guidelines related to international students and online classes. The discussion covered advocacy efforts and specific legal challenges. The event was intended as a resource for faculty, staff and students.


Speaker recap:

Louis Bronstein, Assistant Director for Federal Government Relations, kicked off the event by discussing the efforts being made by universities.

  • UCI, as well as the entire UC system is engaged in advocacy efforts with members of Congress and legal relief.

  • An OC delegation recently engaged by UCI discussed potential impacts on students and programs.

  • Some questions still remain as we wait for some clarification.

Tom Bogenschild, Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) Advocacy Chair, gave advice on the following steps that international students can take.

  • The UC system’s quick response was a success and now we need to deconstruct what happened and why.

  • The attempted change was made in the midst of rising COVID-19 infections and stress to open schools.

  • International students should contact congressional representatives and write news op eds.

  • Students and faculty cannot be complacent because international students will be scapegoated for the impact of COVID-19 and high unemployment.

Stephen Lee, Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Professor of Law, UCI, explained how this latest chapter reflects larger trends in the U.S. government.

  • These guidelines have a weak argument on the merits and are a way to use law to create fear and frenzy.

  • An enforcement culture is implemented by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which represents the counter terrorism effort.

  • This policy relates to a DACA case in which complaints were made regarding reliance interests on the part of universities.

Notes from Q&A:

  • The timing of this enforcement was outrageous and a clear attempt to bully international students and colleges and universities that serve them.

  • This impacted many people in higher education as well as tech companies that rely on hiring international students.

  • There is no information on contributions by non-citizens, so the court ruled in a technical way.

  • The court will not lead us forward in changing perspectives on international students.

  • Congress has to be the ones to lead the way by writing detailed and forward thinking legislation.

  • This is a messaging bill, done so that constituencies hear and recognize the administration with the election looming.

  • Long-term, the executive branch will have less credibility because the administration uses “emergency measures” as a tool.

  • Students and universities are easily targeted during this time because they are often seen as liberal.

  • Universities need to shape a relationship with younger congressional representatives to represent our interests.

UCI is committed to supporting our community members from around the world who share the values of learning and discovery to make the world a better place. The UC system complies with applicable laws and regulations and actively advocates for policies that further its academic mission.

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