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In Support of Our International Communities

In Support of Our International Communities

The latest modification to the temporary exemptions for the Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) that was announced by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 6th, 2020 puts our international students, scholars, and their families at risk for deportation and inordinate loss. We, the Counseling Center Staff, condemn this xenophobic policy, as it is yet another horrifying, saddening, and fear-inducing enactment of injustice and systemic racism. We are heavy-hearted and furious with the awareness that in the midst of a pandemic, another valuable part of our community is put at even greater risk. We are deeply concerned about the pervasive consequences of this policy, including impact on mental health, physical health, and financial stability of a community that is already vulnerable to microaggressions and systemic oppression.

The policy fails to recognize that the United States and all our universities have benefited financially, intellectually, and culturally from international scholars and students. It is disheartening that at a time of global devastation, this governmental policy threatens to purge sections of our community that have provided immeasurable richness to our system. This policy also fails to follow through with the spirit of a commitment made to international communities when they first enter the U.S. to participate in educational opportunities.

Our international communities may be responding in several different and valid ways, including indifference, worry, acute fear, withdrawal, anger, or defeated resignation. In addition, many individuals belonging to international communities are especially vulnerable due to limited social support, including family support in the U.S. Our task at hand lies not only in providing ways for our community to “cope” with this travesty, but to advocate in larger ways. The Counseling Center is committed to challenging this policy, advocating, protecting, and working on bringing about change on behalf of our cherished international communities.

We encourage all who are working with our international populations at UIC to recognize the individuality and uniqueness that comes with diversity and intersectionality. Please attend to how individuals’ backgrounds, identities, and countries of origin differ and are impacted tremendously depending on the political relationship between the U.S. government and a person’s home country, among other factors.

To our international communities, we understand that the implementation of this policy represents another institutional voice telling you that you do not belong. We see you, we value you, and we want you here. Though we are hopeful that advocacy efforts will come to fruition, we acknowledge that you have already endured harm. The Counseling Center is currently drafting a newsletter with additional resources and actionable items. We stand firmly against this policy and in support of our international community at UIC and throughout the U.S.

-UIC Counseling Center Staff