NAPALSA ICE Policy Update

July 15, 2020

 

Good afternoon NAPALSA members,

          

We are relieved to share that the Trump Administration has rescinded the ICE policy released on July 6, 2020 that would have required International Students to leave the US if their program did not host in-person classes in Fall 2020. Harvard and MIT immediately sued the federal government with at least 17 states quickly following suit. Higher education institutions across the country began to modify their course offerings to comply with the policy in a way that protected international student’s immigration status and the health of their campus community during an international pandemic.

 

NAPALSA is reaching out to say that we will continue to monitor developments with this policy and encourage programs to vocalize their support of international students. It is important to us that you are aware that the policy has been rescinded, but more importantly, that you know your contributions to our community are not dependent on your immigration status. We are honored to be part of a community that is so diverse and rich in perspective, history, and knowledge. We also want to acknowledge the harm that this policy and surrounding discourse may have caused you and acknowledge that hurt.

 

We want you to know that you are not alone during these trying times. We recognize that many international students may be without their family members and support networks. We hope that we can help to fill in some of those gaps and offer you support and community.

 

NAPALSA can be reached via our website, or you can contact President.Napalsa@gmail.com to get involved, or to reach out to talk to a new friend. We hope to celebrate more good news with you soon.

 

Take care of yourselves, and each other.

 

Sincerely,

            Amanda Pham Haines

            NAPALSA President 2020

NAPALSA Statement Against Anti-Black Violence

June 03, 2020

The National Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (NAPALSA) denounces and condemns anti-Black statements and violence in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As Asian-American students in the wake of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian bias and violence, we are compelled to speak out against racialized rhetoric from the highest offices of our nation that demonizes protestors based on the color of their skin. 

We call upon our members to stay vigilant and to take time to revisit the history of civil rights and civil disobedience of our ancestors in this country. Recall that the term “Asian American” was created in the 1960s to unite us in hopes of greater representative and substantive representation in politics. In 1962, Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga entered the U.S. Congress. Soon after in 1964 they were joined by Patsy Takemoto Mink who was the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress.

 

This is the history that we know. Here is what we may not: the latter end of the 1960s comprised of Asian American students joining with Latinx, Black, and Indigenous student groups to strike and protest for the creation of Ethnic Studies programs at universities. Advocacy and solidarity, namely solidarity with minority groups, is a rich part of our history as Asian Americans that has made many American cultural achievements possible. The term “Asian” is vast, and so is our history. We contain multitudes, and thus, we are riddled with contradictions. As much of our history in this country is one of resistance and solidarity, it is also one of complacency in the face of anti-Black oppression. 

 

Often stereotyped as the model minority, our identity has been used as a wedge to demonize minority groups who are described as refusing to assimilate. We must admit that we have not done enough to rebuke these notions, and that we benefit from a culture that has different rules based on the darkness of one’s skin. While we are often the victims, we are also at times the beneficiaries, and at others, the perpetrators. We must face the reality that the path to a greater future for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities, does not come without effort or discomfort. 

 

As a student organization, we are made up of volunteers. We invite you to take this step with us. If you have been wading in these waters and are willing to share what you have learned, we are here to listen. If you need resources, we will join you to find them. We want to use our platform to support our community members to share resources and build together in a time where community and connectivity is desperately needed. 

Please reach out to us via our website or by contacting the Regional Director for your area. Below is a link to Google Doc that has bail funds throughout the country. We thank you for your membership now more than ever. 

 

Helpful Resources 

• Black Lives Matter Letter to Elders: English, Link to All Translations 

Bailout Funds, Legal Help by City 

 

Sincerely, 

Amanda Pham Haines

NAPALSA Executive Board 2020 

Response to ICE Statement 

George Washington APALSA

On behalf of APALSA, concerned affinity groups and student organizations, and our international student members, we write to bring to your attention the following new policy guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) earlier today, July 6, 2020, regarding the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”) for the upcoming Fall 2020 semester: https://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/bcm2007-01.pdf.

 

Under the new policy guidance, international students with F-1 visas must comply with the following conditions to maintain their status:

  1. Students at schools with normal in-person operations are bound by all existing federal policies and regulations. 

  2. Operations that begin with in-person classes and transition to entirely online instruction after Thanksgiving qualify as hybrid under ICE’s definition. Students at schools with hybrid operations will be allowed to take more than one class or three credit hours online and still maintain their F-1 status, provided that these schools certify to SEVP that:

    1. the program is not entirely online;

    2. the student is not taking an entirely online course load this semester; and

    3. the student is taking the minimum number of online classes required to make normal progress in their degree program.

  3. Students at schools with fully online operations must depart from the U.S., transfer to an institution with in-person operations, or face immigration consequences, including removal proceedings. No new visas will be issued for those enrolled in fully online programs.

 

At the time of writing, it seems that GW does not fall under this category because the University previously announced its plans to modify its in-person accommodations. As the Law School and the University have yet to issue a final, conclusive guidance on its Fall 2020 Back to Campus Plan, GW and GW Law currently belong to either the second or third category: either operations will be a mix of in-person and online coursework, or operations will be fully online.

 

We bring this to your attention because currently, few international student voices are being heard in the planning process for the Fall 2020 semester. These students often pay the highest tuition fees and living costs, yet are not well-represented in any particular advocacy efforts at the Law School. At GW Law, the international student community is comprised of currently enrolled JD students and most LLM students, and will further include incoming 1Ls, transfer students, and the majority of the new LLM cohort. All international students need clarity, understanding, and support during this very trying time. 

 

After consulting with members of our leadership and many of our current international JD students, we ask the Law School to:

  1. Commit to hybrid operations. We understand that the Law School is currently planning for hybrid operations, with some classes online and some in-person. ICE classifies as hybrid operations consisting of in-person classes with entirely online post-Thanksgiving instruction. We ask that the Law School commit to hybrid operations for its international students.

  2. Provide clarity by proactively answering our questions. We ask that the Law School provide its scheduling and registration information to students as soon as possible. The ICE policy has set out a very aggressive timeline for schools to submit their reopening plan to SEVP (one deadline is as early as July 15) and for the GW International Service Office (“ISO”) to certify student statuses (August 4). In addition to resolving visa complications, the additional, definite, and thorough information that we request will assist international students in finalizing urgent logical decisions unique to their circumstances for the upcoming academic year. For example, housing remains a large concern — many students have been unable to confirm or extend leases, resulting in involuntary move-outs from their current living arrangements in D.C., forced travel across multiple states, or outright departure from the country during a global pandemic. 

  3. Offer a conference call and/or briefing for all international students. In accordance with our request above, we ask that the Law School designate an administrative point of contact for the international student body and provide a conference call and/or briefing to all international students. This communication should clarify the status of the Law School’s plans, minimize confusion, and streamline answers to urgent and important questions. This conference call should be coordinated with the University’s International Service Office. 

  4. Ensure that international students will be able to register for at least one in-person course. International students are required to take at least one in-person course to maintain their F-1 status. For current J.D. students, that means that international students must register for at least one in-person course. The Law School should clarify specifically which courses will be made available in-person and work with students to ensure that these students will be able to register for those select courses, such as through priority registration. Even in the unlikely event that the Law School goes fully online, we ask that the Law School either maintain an in-person class for international students or provide international students with the option to register for an in-person class at one of the many schools and colleges across the University. This will allow international students to obtain the necessary visa and prevent international students currently in the United States from having to abruptly leave the country or transfer out of the university due to the new policy.

  5. Work with the International Service Office to provide the requisite certification to international students. Because SEVP has set out such an aggressive timeline, the Law School should clarify how it will coordinate with the ISO and the University to present the reopening plan to SEVP. The Law School should also clarify how the designated official at ISO will be able to use Law School records to certify and issue the new I-20s that existing students need in order to maintain their legal status.

In addition, we recognize the incoming 1L and LLM international students face an entirely different situation. Assuming a hybrid model, these students may still be able to secure an F-1 visa (should their country's U.S. consulate remain open). However, should the Law School decide to conduct the 1L curriculum completely online, 1L international students — even those graduating from U.S. undergraduate programs with prior F-1 status — will be prevented from securing their necessary student visas. Therefore, we ask the Law School to take into account the tightened requirements for securing a visa to enter or remain in the U.S, and accordingly design a unique course of action for these students.

 

We stand ready to engage with you at your earliest convenience. We again ask the Law School to designate a point person for international students to contact should our student body and wider GW Law Community have any further questions. 

 

 

Yours, 

 

GW APALSA

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