Statement by University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman on State of Maryland Lawsuit Against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Baltimore, Md. (July 13, 2020) -- Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced today that his office will represent the State of Maryland and the University System of Maryland (USM) as a plaintiff in a multistate lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The lawsuit stems from ICE guidance issued last week stating that international students on F-1 and M-1 visas may not take “a full online course load” and remain in the U.S.

This guidance potentially disrupts the education of more than 5,300 F-1 visa-holding students enrolled at USM institutions. While the System is resuming some in-person instruction this fall, universities will offer a significant number of their courses in an online-only format, meaning that international students might be unable to comply with ICE rules, which puts them at risk of deportation—and deportation itself is a risk to their health and safety.

Additionally, the guidance undermines our universities’ efforts to reduce density on their campuses, which is one of the most effective tools we have to protect the safety of our students—domestic and international alike—as well as our faculty and staff. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the higher the density in campus classrooms and residence halls, the higher the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Every USM institution is working with its international students to ensure they can remain enrolled and compliant with ICE guidance. Meanwhile, the System joins with universities in several states to stop ICE from implementing rules that are capricious and callous—rules that threaten the education of our international students, that effectively punish them without cause, and that jeopardize their safety and well-being. Enforcing this guidance during a global public health emergency is unnecessary and cruel.

It also deals yet another financial blow to the USM, already reeling from more than $200 million in COVID-induced losses last fiscal year alone. Students on F-1 visas contribute well over $125 million to the System each year in tuition, housing, and fees. But international students’ economic impact is felt far beyond their campuses: Maryland’s 20,000-plus international students contribute nearly $800 million to the state’s economy and support 9,500 jobs here.

Moreover, the ICE rules run counter to the very mission of U.S. higher education, and threaten the nation’s ability to lead in discovery and innovation—leadership that’s vitally important, that’s fueled by talent from around the world, and that’s imperiled by isolationist policies.

It’s a tremendous point of pride that the brightest, most ambitious students want to learn in the U.S., whose universities are—still—the best in the world. But the benefit is bidirectional. International students enrich the educational experience for all of our students. Having domestic and international students together—in the same classroom (real or virtual), the same campus, the same community—is important. It broadens our perspectives and challenges our thinking. It exposes our biases and deepens our global understanding. It tethers us across countries and cultures, connecting us to one another—not only as students and scholars but as human beings. This is education. This is our mission.

And so we will fight the ICE decision that deprives our students—deprives all of our students—of this invaluable education. We will fight to give our students the rich academic experience each one of them deserves.

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Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719