The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement rescinded the guidelines previously announced on July 6 which threatened deportation for international students with F-1 or M-1 visas not enrolled in at least one in-person class.
The reversal follows a nationwide outcry against the federal rule. Individuals and organizations alike called on the Department of Homeland Security and the Trump Administration to remove the policy.
The university was one of many institutions of higher learning who spoke out against it and promised to work with international students to ensure they could stay enrolled.
President Neal Smatresk sent an official notice Wednesday afternoon to mark ICE’s announcement and voice his support for the university’s international students.
“All of our students — regardless of where they call home — are an important part of our campus community and absolutely deserve to have the same educational opportunities offered in our country,” Smatresk said in the notice. “I am extremely proud of the diversity and perspectives these students add to our campus community — from enriching classroom discussions and campus activities to filling valuable roles as teaching and research assistants or serving on our research teams.”
The university currently has 2,500 international students attending from 141 different countries. In the U.S., there are over 1 million international students pursuing a college degree.
Smatresk thanked students, faculty and staff for supporting each other and “work[ing] toward creating a truly enriching global environment that values collaboration, creativity and innovation.”
“We echo [Smatresk’s] comments,” Vice Provost and Dean of International Affairs Pia Wood told the North Texas Daily in an email.
International graduate student Victor Tralci, one of many students with a fully remote schedule this fall, faces a notably less uncertain future after ICE’s reversal.
“It honestly means that I get to continue school and continue getting an education,” Tralci said.
At first feeling like the rescission was too good to be true, Tralci said he soon felt immense relief.
“We did it,” Tralci said. “All of the noise that we created with this issue, it worked. Not only at UNT but nationwide. We literally changed an entire nationwide declaration for everybody.”
Featured Image: Marquis Hall houses the office of International Affairs for the university. The university was among those who spoke out against the guidelines announced on July 6, the university’s initial goal was to work with international students to ensure they were able to stay enrolled. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia