Facing eight federal lawsuits and opposition from hundreds of universities, the Trump administration on Tuesday rescinded a rule that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision was announced at the start of a hearing in a federal lawsuit in Boston brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities agreed to pull the July 6 directive and “return to the status quo.”
A lawyer representing the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said only that the judge’s characterization was correct.
But before Tuesday’s announcement, the people at the Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools announced that they had a problem with the policy.
Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools President Ernest L. Brothers reacted to the directive that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced this month. That directive concerns the Student and Exchange Visitors Program. Brothers released a statement to the media and said Tennessee’s graduate deans “are concerned.”
In his statement, Brothers seemed especially worried about how much money international students spend in the United States. Brothers, for instance, said that nearly 10,000 international students attend universities in Tennessee. He also said international students often pay full tuition. Brothers also said international students contributed $45 billion to the domestic economy in 2018 and $348 million in Tennessee.
“The US economy is intricately tied to the global economy, and businesses are increasingly globalized. Tennessee’s workforce is also diverse, and the state has important multi-national corporate employers like FedEx, Nissan, Bridgestone, Eastman Chemical and others,” Brothers said.
“What our students learn from one another impacts them as they move into the workplace. Just as having international companies in our state has added value to the state, having international students on campuses and in our communities helps all of us.”
Brothers warned international students might instead attend schools in Canada, Germany, “or any other country that is more welcoming.”
The Tennessee Conference of Graduate Schools, according to its website, started in 1977 to consider matters related to graduate study and research.
Brothers, according to the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s website, serves as an associate dean at that school’s Office of Graduate Training and Mentorship.
As The Tennessee Star reported in 2018, a spokesman for Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro said the school pays for all efforts to recruit international students from the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.
Also, as The Star reported that year, more and more international students attend universities in Tennessee. They take the knowledge and the skills they acquire here and apply them back on their home turf.
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