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UW-Eau Claire international student reacts to ICE policy

An announcement earlier this week from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will require students with F-1 visas to leave the United States if their classes go online this fall.
Published: Jul. 9, 2020 at 7:05 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - An announcement earlier this week from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will require students with F-1 visas to leave the United States if their classes go online this fall.

At UW-Eau Claire, classes are scheduled to be in person, but 151 UW-EC students on F-1 visas could be affected by this policy if classes were to move online.

One of those students is incoming senior Emerson Ngu, who has been studying psychology and economics at UW-Eau Claire for the last two years after coming to the school from Malaysia.

“Coming to the U.S. gives me a lot more opportunity being involved in different internships, organizations, research projects, things i wouldn’t be able to do at home,” Ngu says.

Emerson Ngu, a UW-Eau Claire senior from Malaysia
Emerson Ngu, a UW-Eau Claire senior from Malaysia(WEAU)

As he approaches his senior year, Ngu says it is unnerving to hear about this new policy.

“We are just waiting and hoping things work out for the better,” Ngu says. “This is just another layer adding on to how anxious and nervous some students are feeling right now.”

At the Center for International Education, Director Colleen Marchwick says they have been working with students and discussing options with university lawyers.

“We have a group of students in the U.S. who are here wondering if they will be asked to leave and then we have a group of students who left because of COVID-19 concerns wondering ‘what does this means for me'?” Marchwick says.

Ngu says if he were required to leave the U.S., he has concerns about expensive flights home and taking classes online while living in a different time zone.

Marchwick says there are concerns that some students would not have access to adequate resources in their home countries.

“It is an evolving situation which is unfortunate because it can increase anxiety for the students,” Marchwick says. “We have had to discuss how we would respond.”

While disappointed, Ngu says he is not surprised by the current situation but hopes he can stay in Eau Claire to finish his degrees.

“When something like this happens and your parents have been working years to put you though this and you don’t know if you’re going to be able to fulfill this dream they have for you I think that is really tough,” Ngu says.

149 UW-Eau Claire students with J-1 visas are not affected by the new policy. Harvard and MIT have both sued the Trump Administration over the policy change. University officials say they are keeping a close eye on the evolving situation.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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