New ICE policy leaves international student body anxious, uneasy

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Photo Courtesy of Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images / TNS

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement seal is seen before a news conference on July 22, 2014, at ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C.

By Meghan Lyons, Special Section Editor

As of recently, a new and controversial Immigrations and Customs Enforcement policy was announced. If universities are to remain exclusively online for the coming semester, international students are not permitted to be in the United States and must take their classes elsewhere. Multiple universities have already taken legal action against ICE, including Harvard and MIT. The University of Illinois has also expressed its opposition against the policy, with president Tim Killeen announcing that the University plans to file amicus briefs, supporting Harvard and MIT.

International students have been plagued by a wave of uncertainty and anxiety since the announcement of the policy. Karan Sil, an incoming junior in LAS hailing from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has been very troubled by the new policy.

“When I first heard about it, it was very concerning. I have no idea where I personally stand right now,” Sil said.

With the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it is always a possibility that classes can switch to online at any time. If this situation were to happen, the lives of international students will be completely uprooted.

“If classes were to switch online, it would be a significant hinderance on my life. Back in Dubai, all my friends from high school have already gone through college. I would imagine feeling pretty alone,” Sil said.

Sil believes that the overall student body will experience turmoil without the presence of the international student body — especially RSO’s and Greek life. This upcoming semester, Sil will be in charge of recruitment for his fraternity, Delta Upsilon. Recruitment is a long process of recruiting new members into Greek life.

“If I were to get sent back in the middle of recruitment, my fraternity would be effected. International students not alone will be impacted, but everyone else as well,” Sil said.

A large portion of the undergraduate population consists of international students, making the University of Illinois one of the most diverse campuses in the entire country. Many international students are deeply involved in clubs and organizations across campus. Removing international students would more than likely seriously affect everything that they are involved in.

When asked about backup plans if classes were to be moved online, Sil did not have a definite answer.

“Given the change of plans potentially being made so late, it would be really hard for me to transfer into an in-person class, and if I have to, it would not be feasible. I wouldn’t have any other option unfortunately but to go back,” Sil said.

Meghan is a junior in LAS

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