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Vassar Joins Fight Against ICE’s ‘Cruel’ Planned Expulsion of International Students Who Take Their Fall Semester Online

Vassar College has lent support to a legal battle against a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive regarding international students that Vassar College President Elizabeth H. Bradley called “cruel” and “inhumane.” The directive, issued July 6, seeks to expel from the country  international students who need to take all of their fall classes online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vassar has joined 180 educational institutions in signing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to block ICE from enforcing this new policy.

“We were shocked—stunned, really,” said Bradley of the ICE announcement. “It’s just cruel from my perspective. It really is uncalled for, not very good policy, and also inhumane.”

According to the
ICE directive, students who take all of their fall classes online will not be allowed to remain in or to enter the United States—even if their schools mandate remote classes for safety reasons. “Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status or potentially face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” the directive says.

While Vassar has planned a return to campus for the Fall Semester, some larger urban colleges are mandating online-only classes for some students to reduce density and promote physical distancing.

“We remain in solidarity with those colleges like Harvard and Yale that are in the middle of big cities, that are enormous, and it’s really not safe to be having in-person classes because it’s an emergency situation in this pandemic,” Bradley said, adding that Vassar is in this fight for the long haul.

“Our international students are an incredibly vibrant and important part of our college,” she said. “They’re important to the faculty, the curriculum, to our peers—they’re important to me personally. And I plan on doing absolutely everything we can to support them, whatever shall come.”

Contact: Gladwyn Lopez,, 845-437-7404 (Vassar College)

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, July 13, 2020