Education

As California Sues Trump Administration, CSUF President Expresses Support for International Students

Following the Trump administration’s announcement on July 6 that international students cannot, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to maintain their visa status while exclusively taking online/virtual courses, CSUF President Fram Virgee sent a letter (below) to CSUF students and staff, expressing support for international students.

California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced on July 9 that the state will sue the Trump administration over the order.

“Shame on the Trump administration for risking not only the education opportunities for students who earned the chance to go to college, but now their health and well-being as well,” Becerra said. “Not on our watch.”

California’s lawsuit is supported by California State University system (CSU) and California Community Colleges officials, and claims it unfairly hurts international students and puts “themselves, teachers, other students and the community at large at risk of getting and spreading the coronavirus — or be subject to deportation.”

The letter by Virgee is as follows:

Dear Titan Family:

In a move that is not only incongruous to the direction of the CDC and the health and safety of the entire higher education community, but also smacks of xenophobia, and is cruel and damaging to the spirit of global unity, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that international students cannot, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to maintain their visa status while exclusively taking online/virtual courses.

As the president of a university that is home to approximately 2,000 international students, I am deeply troubled by this divisive, destructive, and wrongheaded decision, and vow to stand with and advocate for these students. Further, as an educator who understands the vibrant ways in which multi-cultural perspectives are integral to our mission to create globally-engaged graduates, I commit to this work on behalf of not just our international Titans, but all Titans whose lives and academic journeys they enrich beyond measure. And as the father of an international student who is sitting upstairs in my home as I write this, wondering if he can even return to his home country (a predicament in which countless other Titans find themselves), my conviction stems from my love of both our Titan Family and my son.

Yesterday, our Office of International Students Services (ISS) sent an email to all Cal State Fullerton international students that articulated our commitment to continue to gather information and provide timely updates to them. Around the same time, the CSU Chancellor’s Office provided a statement of support for the 11,300 international students attending CSU institutions (yes, that means around 20% of all international students in the CSU are Titans) and underscored our collective commitment to reduce the impact of ICE’s decision.

To that end, CSUF is working closely with the Chancellor’s Office in an attempt to determine a path forward, and we will continually provide international students with updates and support. In the meantime, students in need of mental health and well-being support can contact Counseling and Psychological Services by phone 24/7 at 657-278-3040. Students also have access to YOU@Fullerton where they can access other mental health resources.

And finally, to all international students, my message to you is the same one I have for my son: You are a beloved and integral part of who we are as an academic institution and a family. You are valued. You are loved. You advance knowledge, spur innovation, and transform lives. You are the future who will help to shape and change our world for the better.

In other words, you are Titans, and we will do all we can to support you and protect your right to continue your academic journey at CSUF – now and always.

Sincerely,

Fram Virjee

President

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