Skip to main content

Message to international students regarding new ICE regulations

July 9, 2020

Update 7/17/2020:

President Bahls applauds the ICE and DHS for reversing its decision and allowing international students taking online courses to stay in the United States. He endorses the statement of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, of which Augustana is a member:

Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, stated: “This is an extremely significant outcome for international students and colleges. And, we are grateful to ICE and DHS for listening. But, make no mistake, this result is about the transformational power of our collective action and the swift, visible outrage of many - including presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities from across the country. The fight is not yet over. The threats to immigrants and international students are still looming. We need to continue this fight for international students, their ability to come to the U.S. to learn, study and have the opportunity to work, innovate and contribute to our nation.” 


Dear international students:

As you probably know, this week the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would issue regulations in the coming weeks prohibiting international students from staying in the United States if they are enrolled in online-only instruction. Already there are lawsuits seeking to stop these regulations from going into effect.

I join more than 450 members of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration in condemning this policy as “undermining international student educational attainment and harming our nation’s ability to attract and retain global talent.” I also go one step further: These proposed regulations insult Augustana’s values of welcoming international students as full members of our community.

The proposed regulations naturally cause concern among all of us. Yet I believe it is highly unlikely that these regulations will affect international students at Augustana, for these reasons:

Augustana intends to offer in-person classes starting August 31, 2020. The State of Illinois has issued guidance on the requirements to do so, and we will invest $1 million to comply with rules issued from the State of Illinois and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the unlikely event that we are later required to switch our in-person classes to online, we expect to continue scaled-down in-person classes for international students, likely requiring enhanced social distancing and other protective measures.

For colleges and universities that have announced that they will not hold in-person classes in the fall, we will accept their students as visiting or transfer students to Augustana so they can remain in the United States.

My commitment, and Augustana’s commitment, to providing excellent, safe and secure education to international students at Augustana remains rock solid. Each and every one of our international students is a valued and important member of our community.


Steve Bahls
President of Augustana College

UPDATE: Augustana is joining in the support of Harvard and MIT in the lawsuit challenging the July 6 ICE SEVP Guidance, coordinated by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. President Bahls also supports the following statement from the Presidents' Alliance:

“We are deeply disappointed in the administration’s new Proclamation. It will harm many international professionals and workers, their families and the institutions and businesses they work for.

The administration’s suspension of entry of these immigrant and nonimmigrant visa categories is misguided, shortsighted, and ineffective in addressing our nation’s unemployment crisis. Now more than ever, as we seek to reopen our campuses, jumpstart our economy, and achieve greater racial equity and justice, we need to welcome talented people from throughout the world.

These counterproductive barriers and restrictions stymie innovation, contract the economy, and erode our nation’s attractiveness to the world’s most talented people. These actions undermine our colleges and universities and our nation’s historic openness to global talent, drive, and innovation.”