Last week, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that international students attending a college or university in the United States holding online-only classes in the fall would not be permitted to stay in the country. This week, the Trump administration has rescinded the policy, in the wake of a lawsuit by Harvard and MIT (supported by more than 200 other universities and colleges).
It is unclear why the policy was instituted and then rescinded, and it remains possible that the Trump administration could institute new restrictions on foreign students.
Onoval Perez-Montufa’s death comes only one month after the death of a Guatemalan man in ICE custody, also from COVID-19. Perez-Montufa had been detained by ICE on June 15 and was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 2. There are currently 883 active cases of coronavirus among immigrants that have been detained by ICE. Immigrant advocates have been sounding the alarm since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March about immigrants being particularly vulnerable to the spread of the virus. Since then, a federal judge has ordered ICE to release 502 people who were determined to be at a high risk of life-threatening complications from COVID-19.
During a House border Security, Facilitation, and Operations Subcommittee hearing, CEOs of four for-profit, private immigration detention centers revealed that more than 900 workers at their facilities across the country have tested positive for coronavirus. Immigrant detention facilities have come under fire by advocates since the WHO declared a pandemic in mid-March.
While the Supreme Court has prevented the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for the moment, President Trump has claimed that he will sign an order that will deal with the program in a “very Republican way.” Critics, some of whom are in the president’s own party, doubt that he has the authority to issue sweeping immigration orders.