UC Davis international students worried about educational future due to new ICE order

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) — International students enrolled in college in the U.S. may have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities shift to an online-only model for the fall semester, according to a new order announced Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Ioanna Ploumi told FOX40 that she’s been trying to enjoy what’s left of her summer break in her home country of Greece. But the uncertainty of what her sophomore year at the University of California, Davis will look like has kept her tossing and turning at night.

“As of right now, it’s looking pretty bleak,” said Ploumi.

Like her, thousands of other international peers might not have a campus to return to in the fall. ICE announced foreign students may have to leave the country or risk deportation if their colleges move strictly online in September.

“Just a lot of stress, anger, just feeling that this is unfair. A lot of people have felt that this has been targeted toward them,” said Ploumi.

Ploumi said she is worried about how she’ll physically get to California under the current coronavirus travel ban from Greece and other European Union countries.

“The thing I’m most scared is what if the travel restrictions don’t get lifted and I can’t enter the U.S.? And in that case, what do I do?” asked Ploumi.

Fortunately for Kabir Sahni, he told FOX40 he decided to skip his trip home to India and wait out the summer in Davis. However, now he said he’s concerned his sacrifice might all be for nothing if this semester turns entirely virtual.

“Those are the classes I’m registered for right now and I’m pretty sure that I’m not gonna have any classes in person and that’s scary,” said Sahni.

With UC Davis planning to offer a hybrid model in the fall, Sahni said he is trying to find a class taught in-person so he can stay in the U.S. and finish out his junior year — even if that means putting his own health at risk. 

“I think it’s horrible what this pandemic has done and to add this as a sprinkle on top. Like hey, choose between your health or you choose between your education,” said Sahni.

“This is just a dream for a lot of us and I just really hope that some ruling that feels arbitrary and strict does not ruin that dream for a lot of us,” said Ploumi.

Outgoing University of California President Janet Napolitano released a statement on the ICE announcement, which reads, in part:

Making it more difficult for international students to study here undermines decades of collaboration between the United States and our international partners, particularly in fields that contribute to America’s economic vitality.

The Trump administration’s latest actions impacting international students jeopardize our nation’s future as a worldwide leader in research and innovation.

Janet Napolitano, outgoing president, University of California

UC Davis said in fall 2019 they had 5,794 international students out of 39,629 students.

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