San Francisco – Chinese for Affirmative Action denounces yesterday’s announcement from the Trump administration and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) that may subject more than one million international students and their dependents to sweeping enforcement and deportation actions.

The guidance issued by ICE terminates F1 and M1 visa programs for international students in academic and vocational studies who are enrolled in institutions implementing all-virtual, remote learning during the COVID 19 pandemic. If schools attended by these visa holders do not modify their all-virtual learning, students will have to transfer to schools offering at least partial in-person learning or else leave the country.

“This policy is both unconscionable and unworkable. Rather than address the public health crisis with leadership, the Trump administration is weaponizing the pandemic to further restrict access to our immigration and education systems. This is another blatant attempt to attack immigrants and part of their longstanding campaign to make America white again,” said Hong Mei Pang, Director of Advocacy at CAA.

Roughly one million international students were in the United States in 2018-19 and among them over 70% are students from Asian countries including China, India, South Korea and Vietnam. The exact number of international students holding F-1 and M-1 visas that will be impacted by this policy is uncertain as remote learning policies and local public health guidelines remain in flux. International students and scholars make our colleges and universities more diverse and dynamic for all students. The cultural and academic exchanges and collaboration are more crucial than ever in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world. 

“This is no time to be playing politics with our public health or our immigration policy. This reckless maneuver only makes the pandemic situation worse by putting schools and students in an impossible predicament. But this administration has shown they are more interested in demonizing immigrants, as well as international students and scholars especially those from China, to score xenophobic political points,” said Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director of CAA.

CAA calls on the Administration and the Congress for the immediate reversal of the policy and stands in solidarity with students and others who continue to be impacted by the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies and politics. The policy is strongly criticized by colleges and universities who are expected to challenge the rule in court. CAA advocates for an immigration system that reflects values of inclusion, compassion, and justice and that ensures students, families, and workers can live without fear and achieve their fullest potential.

Individuals who may be affected by the policy should contact the international office of their home institutions and consult with an immigration attorney for legal advice. CAA maintains an immigration referral phone line at (415)761-3222. 


Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) is a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco. Our mission is to protect the civil and political rights of Chinese Americans and to advance multiracial democracy in the United States. We advocate for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial injustice.