Statement from UAW President Rory L. Gamble: We must reverse policies that punish international students

In the past two weeks, the Administration has announced the latest in a series of policies that target workers and students who come to the United States to live, study, and work. On June 22, 2020, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Proclamation prohibiting many H, L and J visa holders from around the world from entering the U.S. to work and study. With the international scholar community still reeling from this order, U.S. Immigrant and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on July 6 that international students on F and M visas will face deportation if their school switches to online classes for the fall 2020 semester due to the pandemic. These policies must be reversed immediately for a wide variety of reasons.

Tens of thousands of UAW members at colleges and universities across the country will be adversely impacted. UAW members work as teaching and research assistants, administrative and clerical personnel, adjunct faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and more at esteemed universities like NYU, University of Washington, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, University of California, Harvard and Columbia to name a few. They teach hundreds of thousands of students a year, conduct critical research that is a vital driver of U.S. industry and technology, and bring billions of dollars in research funding into their universities and local economies. Our members are also on the front lines of research pursuing vaccines and therapies for COVID-19.

Make no mistake, barring international workers from entering the U.S. and deporting international students will make the COVID-19 crisis even worse. Studies show that cutting visa programs will undermine economic activity in many ways: it won’t deliver an additional job, it will reduce the number of jobs available to U.S. workers, and it will lessen the quality of scientific research in the U.S. Moreover, by prohibiting students from returning to their course of study, these policies have a direct impact on the finances of our universities and communities and create dangerous incentives for universities to hold in-person classes against public health guidelines.

UAW members support any and all efforts to help workers and families who are under tremendous stress in the wake of COVID-19. But cutting off visa entry and barring International students from freely working and studying in the U.S. are ineffective economic policy and inconsistent with our values. We call for a response to the economic downturn that prioritizes all workers, including immigrant and international workers. There is plenty to be done to get this economy back on its feet. Let’s get to work.