UTEP international student shares concerns of new policy by ICE

El Paso News

Thousands of international college students in the Borderland would be impacted by the rule from ICE, risking the loss of their F-1 and M-1 VISAS if they take all online classes this fall.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Thousands of international college students in the Borderland would be impacted by the rule from ICE, risking the loss of their F-1 and M-1 VISAS if they take all online classes this fall.

When the announcement from ICE came out on Monday, it left many foreign students feeling worried and unsure about their studies. However, some local professors are stepping up to the plate to find solutions.

“I’m a fellow international student as well. I’m very concerned about the situation,” Diva Campos, an international student that attends UTEP said.

Campos attends UTEP but lives in Ciudad Juárez. She said the new rule that would strip away VISAS from international students could do more harm than expected.

“We want to graduate and we’re limited to the amount of classes that we have. It may take a bit longer for us, it may take a bit more money,” Campos shared.

As we reported, ICE said foreign students with F-1 and M-1 student VISAS must take at least one in-person class. If not, they could be deported.

KTSM reached out to UTEP, NMSU, and EPCC about the rule. The colleges said they’re focusing on working with students that comply with the policy, and provide solutions. For example: hybrid classes or international studies.

UTEP said it has 1,400 foreign students enrolled, NMSU says it has over 1,000, and EPCC said it has 200.

Campos said she’s close to graduating, and the new rule raises more questions for her.

“We don’t have our VISAS yet we have access to our online classes and all, but are we graduating? Will our diplomas be affected? Is that going to be a valid diploma even though we didn’t have a VISA? Are we going to have legal problems in the future as professionals?” Campos said.

“Whoever made this decision, let’s put it this way, did not really fully understand the overall student experience on campus,” Gaspare Genna, a Political Science Professor at UTEP said.

Professors like Genna at UTEP are working to provide solutions for the thousands of foreign students who are affected, “Not only are myself, but other faculty are working diligently to make sure that we do have a work-around providing either independent study that are face to face, or provide hybrid type of class settings.”

Meanwhile, NMSU said it has over 1,000 foreign students and plans to work with them as well.

“Our primary objective is just to assure them that they are a priority for New Mexico State University and that it’s not just our office it’s all campus partners that are really collaborating and pulling together to make sure that we can meet these federal requirements for our international students,” Seth Miner, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at NMSU said.

Harvard and MIT are suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and ICE over the new policy.

KTSM reached out to NMSU and UTEP to see if they’d take similar action. Below are statements provided:

“We continue to monitor this situation closely but do not plan to take any legal action. 
New Mexico State University has more than 1,000 international students, and we’re deeply committed to their success. That’s why we’re working to find solutions to help each of our students stay on track with their studies while also staying in compliance with newly released federal requirements for F-1 visas.

We’ll be able to announce additional details in the coming days. In the meantime, we understand there may be questions. For undergraduate student questions, please call 575-646-2834 or email: isss@nmsu.edu. For graduate student questions, call 575-646-5746 or 575-646-5745 or email gradinfo@nmsu.edu

“UTEP is continuing to work with our international students to make sure their course schedules meet federal requirements.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.