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Education

Kansas City Schools Relieved Trump Administration Abandons Plan To Pull Student Visas

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Courtesy Park University

International students said they were worried about exposing their families back home to the coronavirus if they had leave the U.S. suddenly.

Kansas City university officials were relieved Tuesday after the Trump administration reversed course on a decision that would have forced international students to leave the country if their schools only offered online classes in the fall.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued – and legal pressure forced the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to back down.

Park University President Greg Gunderson said the reversal means schools will have the flexibility to move classes online if there is a coronavirus outbreak on campus this fall. Initially, ICE had said international students in that situation would have to go home.

“We spent a considerable amount in the last week making contingency plans to support our international students, and the fact that we’re now able to treat all of our students consistently makes our lives so much easier,” Gunderson said.

He said Park immediately contacted its international students to let them know they would not face deportation because of the pandemic. About 16% of the 1,600 students at Park are from other countries.

Nada Meawad, a Park student and volleyball player from Egypt, said she was worried about exposing her family back home to the coronavirus if she had to leave the U.S. suddenly.

“I would have to fly, and flying for me takes between 24 and 28 hours, so for an entire day I would be at the airport,” Meawad told KCUR’s Steve Kraske on Up To Date Tuesday morning, before the order was rescinded. “It’s not really safe to be at the airport at this time. If I got anything, I would bring it home to my family. You’re not only risking my life, but my family’s lives, too.”

Many international students stayed in the U.S. when colleges and universities shut down in the spring because they could not get flights home.

Park has employed many international students on campus this summer because their visas do not allow them to work elsewhere.

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