Christian leaders are applauding the Trump administration for reversing course and allowing international students to remain in the United States if they only take online classes.
The controversy began earlier this month when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that students with visas attending colleges that are fully online due to the pandemic “must depart the country” or transfer to a school with in-person instructions.
The policy sparked a diverse outcry, including from members of both parties and faith-based campus groups. A coalition of more than a dozen Christian ministries, including InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, urged the Trump administration to reconsider.
It also led to lawsuits against the federal government.
According to Politico, on Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs said the Trump administration had reversed its policy. Burroughs was hearing a lawsuit against the government.
“We at InterVarsity are very pleased that ICE dropped its plan to deport international college students who only use online courses,” said Tom Lin, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “Their proposal lacked compassion and fell short of American ideals. And because of our faith, we felt it important to speak out publicly about the fact that it violated the tenets of our faith to ‘not mistreat the foreigner’ (Lev. 19:33) but to love our neighbors as ourselves (Lev. 19:34, Matt. 22:39).
“In the coming weeks and months,” Lin said, “InterVarsity and many faith-based organizations are working hard to help students navigate a chaotic and stressful time for us all; during this time, students and young people need more certainty and support, not less.”
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) also applauded the news. Its president, Shirley V. Hoogstra, had signed the coalition letter.
“Good news this afternoon: the government has agreed to rescind the new guidance on international students,” CCCU said in a tweet. “We're incredibly grateful for what this means for our international students & our campuses.”
Good news this afternoon: the government has agreed to rescind the new guidance on international students. We're incredibly grateful for what this means for our international students & our campuses. https://t.co/n4TxOdLuL3— CCCU (@cccuorg) July 14, 2020
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.