To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President; David A. Tirrell, Provost
Date: July 15, 2020
Re: ICE Rescinds Order Affecting International Scholars
We welcome yesterday's announcement that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to rescind its July 6 order, which had created significant uncertainty and potential hardship for our international students.
The decision means that the agency's previous policies, issued on March 9 and March 13, remain in effect for the time being. The March guidance, which was issued in response to the global COVID-19 outbreak and had been presumed to be in effect for the duration of the pandemic, was reaffirmed in FAQs issued today by the agency. The guidance allows international students to maintain their visa status while participating in remote courses for the upcoming term, whether they remain in the United States or abroad. This situation is an evolving one, and we will provide updates should significant changes occur.
Caltech currently enrolls more than 700 international undergraduate and graduate students. Ensuring that these scholars, and international students across the country, can continue to bring their formidable skills to bear at American universities is critical to the United States' ability to be a global leader. We have and will continue to advocate on the behalf of these valued members of our community.
Under the leadership and guidance of General Counsel Jennifer Lum and her office, the Institute challenged the July 6 directive in multiple legal venues. On Monday, Caltech joined 19 other universities and colleges in the West in a lawsuit to block the July 6 order. This coalition challenged the federal agency's action on several grounds, including that it was arbitrary and capricious and violated the Administrative Procedures Act because it was not the product of reasoned decision making, but instead a veiled attempt to coerce schools to reopen. In filing the suit, the coalition asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to block implementation of the July 6 order and to enter judgment vacating the directive. Furthermore, the Institute joined peers in filing an amicus brief in support of another lawsuit brought by our colleagues at Harvard and MIT.
Prior to yesterday's news of the government's likely rescission of the July 6 ICE order, Caltech had announced its Fall 2020 plans, which include a hybrid instruction model that primarily supports remote instruction and invites up to one-third of the undergraduate student population to reside on campus. These plans and the outlined process for moving forward with the Fall 2020 plan remain unchanged.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and remain ready to reengage with this matter, in the courts and in conversation with policymakers, should it be necessary to do so. Anyone with questions on these polices or their implications for their studies should contact International Student Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.