Rep. Driscoll Signs onto Letter to President Trump RE International Students

July 8, 2020

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to respectfully request that you reconsider and rescind the new temporary final rules announced on Monday which prohibits international students from staying in the United States if they are enrolled in an American college or university that implements an online-only platform for instruction. We understand that the guidance also applies to an institution that moves to exclusively online mid-semester in response to rising COVID-19 case on campus, and to students who are living on campuses that are open, but offering classes online-only to protect the health and safety of their faculty and campus community.

As you know, since March our colleges and universities have been in furious upheaval, navigating an unprecedented pandemic and formulating strategies to continue teaching students without putting them, faculty, and staff at risk. Our institutions have sought to balance concerns for public health with their academic mission of teaching and scholarship. This work has been both difficult and costly, and the new rules will add more uncertainty and disruption. Moreover, the new rules leave international students with the choice of either transferring to another institution that provides in person or hybrid instruction, or to depart the country and risk not being able to return. Students who fail to comply with this guidance may face deportation.

We also note that the new rules were introduced without notice, without an opportunity for public comment, and put undo pressure on campuses to stay open when it is unsafe to do so. This comes at a time when the United States has been setting daily records for the number of new infections, with more than 300,000 new cases reported since July 1. And the policy effectively reverses course from the spring and summer, when ICE temporarily suspended pre-pandemic rules banning international students from residing in the U.S. and taking online-only courses.

More than a million international students come to the US every year to earn a degree that will help them land better jobs, and many remain in the US after graduation. They contribute to the cultural diversity of our campuses and many pay full tuition, which helps our institutions, especially in these times of economic difficulty and uncertainty. In Massachusetts there are 77,000 international students with active US study visas and another 32,000 in the rest of New England. Our state ranks fourth nationwide for its number of international students and Northeastern University, with 16,000, ranks third in the country. Nationwide, international students contribute a $41 billion economic impact that supports more than 450,000 jobs. As one of our University Presidents observed, no public good is served by these efforts to deprive international students from continuing to make valuable and necessary contributions to the prosperity of the nation and the impact on the economic interests will be negative and potentially irreversible.

This policy is not only punitive to these international students, it also threatens the safety of other students and the communities surrounding college campuses. Additionally, transporting international students who may have been exposed to the coronavirus to other campuses or to airports to fly back to their home countries poses a myriad of health risks.

Finally, we understand that both Harvard University and MIT filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction this morning and I am sure others will follow. This litigation will be costly, will take time, and will waste precious judicial resources at a time when we should be focusing on rebuilding our nation.

Accordingly, we request that, in the best interest of our nation, you reconsider and rescind the temporary rules to help preserve our higher education system which is, indeed, the envy of the world.

Most respectfully,

Robert A. DeLeo Speaker of the House

Jeffrey N. Roy House Chair Committee on Higher Education

Anne Gobi Senate Chair Committee on Higher Education

Claire Cronin House Chair Committee on Judiciary

Paul McMurtry House Chair Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development

Patricia A. Haddad Speaker Pro Tempore Joanne M. Comerford Senate Chair Committee on Public Health

William H. Strau House Chair Committee on Transportation Ann-Margaret Ferrante House Chair Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Tackey Chan House Chair Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure

William Galvin House Chair Committee on Rules Kay Khan House Chair Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities

Smitty Pignatelli House Chair Committee on Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture

Kevin G. Honan House Chair Committee on Housing Ruth B. Balser House Chair Committee on Elder Affairs

Marc R. Pacheco Senate Chair Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change

Adam Hinds Senate Chair Committee on Revenue

Josh S. Cutler House Vice-Chair Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities

Kate Hogan State Representative 3rd Middlesex District Joan B. Lovely Senate Chair Committee on Rules James Arciero State Representative 2nd Middlesex District Steven Ultrino State Representative 33rd Middlesex District

Sean Garballey House Vice-Chair Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Michael O. Moore Senate Chair Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security Nika C. Elugardo State Representative 15th Suffolk District Carole Fiola State Representative 6th Bristol District Tram T. Nguyen State Representative 18th Essex District Daniel R. Carey State Representative 2nd Hampshire District Tami L. Gouveia State Representative 14th Middlesex District

Maria D. Robinson State Representative 6th Middlesex District Susan L. Moran State Senator Plymouth and Barnstable District Christine P. Barber House Vice Chair Committee on Financial Services

Stephan Hay House Vice Chair Committee on Labor and Workforce Development

Tommy Vitolo State Representative 15th Norfolk District Jack Lewis State Representative 7th Middlesex District Joan Meschino State Representative 3rd Plymouth District

William J. Driscoll, Jr. State Representative 7th Norfolk District Jonathan Hecht State Representative 29th Middlesex District Lindsay Sabadosa State Representative 1st Hampshire District

Adrian C. Madaro State Representative 1st Suffolk District Denise Provost State Representative 27th Middlesex District Danillo A. Sena State Representative 37th Middlesex District Jon Santiago State Representative 9th Suffolk District Jonathan D. Zlotnik State Representative 2nd Worcester District James K. Hawkins State Representative 2nd Bristol District

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© 2019 William Driscoll, Jr.