BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has written a letter calling on U.S. Immigration Services to abandon a policy that would force thousands of international students to leave the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the letter sent on Wednesday, Mayor Walsh told the Deputy Director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that he "vehemently oppose[d] the recent announcement" from the federal government.
The new policy would force tens of thousands of people in the U.S. on student visas to leave, if their college or university is only offering online classes in the Fall.
"The Trump Administration is trying to use this rule to pressure schools to open in the fall," said Walsh, "but now is not the time for reckless, politically motivated actions."
Walsh said the Boston area attracts the world's top talent, with over 70,000 international students choosing to call Massachusetts home.
"Asking them to leave because of a worldwide pandemic is not only cruel, unsafe, and unfair, but also may make continuing their education impossible," said Walsh.
He said some international students in Boston come from countries with restricted governments, with limited access to the internet and coursework, and struggles to meet basic human needs.
According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the city would also suffer economically if all international students were deported during the pandemic.
"International students contribute $3.2 billion to the economy and support nearly 39,000 jobs in Massachusetts alone," said Walsh. "We cannot take that from schools, workers, and businesses that have already lost so much and are struggling to stay afloat."
Walsh said ICE "must reverse this terrible policy before it causes unnecessary chaos and threatens the safety and well-being of all our communities."
The letter from Mayor Walsh came days after Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern sued the Trump Administration over the new order for students in the U.S. on visas. In the lawsuit, the universities said they believe that "the ICE order is bad public policy, and we believe that it is illegal."
On Tuesday, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also announced that her office will sue the Trump Administration over the federal guidelines, which she called “cruel” and “illegal.”
(Photo: Getty Images)