Columbia Must Condemn Xenophobic Policies
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the recent Presidential Proclamation restricting and revoking student visas for some PRC nationals, and the proposed SECURE Campus Act which expands these restrictions to all STEM fields. While the impact of the Presidential Proclamation will only become clear once the Department of State has issued its interpretation, the University of California has already released an analysis of its likely effects here. Any students who feel they may be affected by this proclamation should reach out to Graduate Workers of Columbia.
It is clear that these xenophobic policies target international students and workers and must be fought at every level. Prior to the May 29 proclamation, Chinese STEM students already faced discriminatory one-year limits on visa period. Many students were stranded for years in the United States during their studies, unable to return home to visit family or friends for fear of being arbitrarily denied visa renewals or barred re-entry. These immigration policies are part of a xenophobic effort, which also includes the recent suspension of immigrant visas and the continued expansion of ICE’s powers to cruelly and arbitrarily deport immigrants.
International students and scholars form an integral part of our unit and our broader community. We are all co-workers, neighbors, labmates, classmates, advisors, instructors, and more to each other. This current wave of legislation fuels a new Cold War. and relies on racist stereotypes about Chinese people as dangerous foreigners that have already been worsened by COVID-19 anti-Asian racism.. The claim that Chinese students are likely to perform espionage for the Chinese government is not supported by any direct evidence.
These attacks also coincide with a continuous effort to dismantle Optional Practical Training and other forms of post-graduation employment. As the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students points out, these policies cannot be justified on economic or educational grounds. Just as this administration blames domestic enemies such as anti-racist and Black protestors, it also is scapegoating Chinese students as a foreign threat.
We join international students across the United States in rejecting xenophobia in higher education. We request that Columbia immediately take the following actions:
- Immediately issue a statement opposing the recent Presidential Proclamation and the SECURE Campus Act.
- Provide legal support to international and immigrant students, for example by reimbursing legal expenses or providing access to information sessions with lawyers or organizing an immigration law clinic.
- Develop and publicize a contingency plan for expected further changes in immigration policy, including the restriction or cancellation of Optional Practical Training.
- Do not volunteer student information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other law enforcement agencies without a warrant or court order. Train relevant staff to handle requests and visits from immigration and law enforcement in a way that protects international students.
- Establish a university-wide emergency relief fund to mitigate immigration and visa expenses, including expenses caused by unexpected changes in immigration policy, especially for those who do not qualify for stimulus checks and unemployment benefits.
- Lobby actively and transparently for international and immigrant students through advocacy organizations such as the President’s Alliance for Immigration and Higher Education and NAFSA.
- Form on-campus committees that include international and immigrant students and workers and actively solicit feedback from them.
- Set up an appointment system, in person and over the phone, that international students and scholars (from multiple time zones) can access to have questions answered.
Many of our demands have already been stated in our cross-campus, cross-union petition, “Support International and Immigrant Students and Workers.” Columbia’s mission statement notes that it “seeks to attract a diverse and international faculty and student body, to support research and teaching on global issues, and to create academic relationships with many countries and regions.” Our demands advance these goals. They have been consistently put forward in ISWG meetings with ISSO staff, but we have received no action or meaningful response.
Without taking real, meaningful action to support international and immigrant students and workers, including Chinese STEM students who have been targeted by these racist and xenophobic policies, Columbia is failing in this stated mission.
我们的许多要求早已公布于一份跨工会跨校园的请愿书，“支持国际与移民学生与雇员”。然而，据其使命宣言，哥大承诺 “力图吸引多元国际的学生与学者、支持关于全球问题的研究与教育、以及与多数国家区域建立学术关系。” 虽然上列的要求已在国际学生工作小组（ISWG)与校方的会议中已被多次提出，可是到此为止，我们还没有见到任何行动或者得到任何有意义的回复。