Note: This post was updated on July 15, 2020 to reflect a reversal in ICE guidance, which reinstates an earlier policy implemented in March that allows current international students with student visas to take all their classes online and remain in the country legally.
In addition to the challenges of the COVID pandemic and racial trauma, international students at Johns Hopkins now face difficulties related to new guidance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) for fall 2020 for F-1 students. The guidance indicates that students must take in-person classes or risk deportation, which is a physical and/or logistical impossibility for many.
While there are a number of outstanding questions to be resolved as to what this policy will mean for international students, it is undoubtedly a stressful time.
To our international students, we say: You and your contributions to our community are valued. ICE’s disregard for student welfare is an affront to the inclusiveness and diversity that defines Hopkins, and the university is actively working to understand, address, and oppose these measures.
While our administration works to resolve this problem on an institutional scale, we hope that at a personal level, you are taking good care of yourself and making use of every resource available to you to navigate these difficult and uncertain times.
In this post we’ve assembled statements about the new guidance from university leaders, coping strategies adapted from Psychology Tools, and a list of Hopkins-sponsored resources for mental health and student services.
In a July 7 statement on the new ICE guidance, Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said, “International students are now faced with an impossible situation that causes undue stress and undermines their educational aims…we are deeply committed to providing opportunities for the world’s most talented scholars, and we will work closely with our international student population to navigate these unnecessary and disturbing disruptions to their educational pursuits while also employing all means available to reduce their impact.”
Bloomberg School of Public Health Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie also released a statement, noting that restrictions on international students are not in keeping with BSPH’s core values: “The decision disregards the health and well-being of students seeking to start or continue academic studies safely…as a public health institution, we are committed to both educating the public health leaders the world needs and protecting their health.”
In a July 14 statement, Daniels noted that international students, particular new and transfer students, will still face obstacles in the fall despite the federal government’s agreement to rescind the proposed changes to the ICE guidance.
He said, “We stand ready to help all of our international students continue their educations in the best way possible during these difficult times…for generations, the world’s most innovative and ambitious people have flocked to this nation for the opportunities it offers. America’s colleges and universities have been a beacon for those whose talent and drive have fueled the discoveries that foster social progress and create economic opportunity, including thousands of jobs. I want to thank all those in our community who spoke out against this unjust, capricious, and cruel policy. Many of our students who faced the prospect of being forced to uproot their lives and leave this country came forward courageously to tell their stories to the court. They exemplify the truth that welcoming international scholars makes this country stronger.”
The following strategies are adapted from the “Free Guide to Living with Worry and Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainty,” a resource created by Psychology Tools and available in 40 different languages including Arabic, Chinese (simplified and traditional), French, Hindi, and Spanish. The guides, available as PDFs, also include exercises and worksheets that may be helpful to students experiencing anxiety and worry.
International Association for Suicide Prevention. Find crisis centers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and Africa.
If you are in an acute state of crisis, call 911. To speak to someone at Johns Hopkins urgently please go to this list of contacts.
If you have difficulty accessing Hopkins-sponsored resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To explore all the mental wellness resources available to Hopkins students, visit this page.
To explore all the professional wellness resources available to Hopkins students, visit this page.