Hundreds of students at the University of California — Berkeley are privately discussing an idea to make a “dummy” course solely to assist international students on F-1 student visas to avoid deportation under new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations — and that they say a minimum of one academician is on board, Fox News has learned.
The plan, which might likely afoul of laws against immigration fraud if enacted, was hatched hours after ICE announced Monday that foreign students within the country are required to require some in-person instruction or they’re going to not be allowed to legally remain within the country.
“Berkeley students are creating a 1-unit, in-person, student-run class to assist international students to avoid deportation thanks to the new ICE regulations,” a Berkeley Urban Studies student wrote during a now-deleted tweet, which has been archived by Google. “love my school sometimes.”
The tweet, which was shared quite 25,000 times before it had been taken down, linked to an extended post stating that a member of the Berkeley community had “found a school member who will sponsor [sic] this.” The post noted that a syllabus is being drafted, which the course “is just for students who are international and wish a physical component to stay within us .”
The longer post has been shared many times on various Berkeley-related social media groups, including several that are publicly available. Academics with ties to Berkeley, including Deborah Miranda, have spread the news of the course on their own Facebook accounts — saying it is a “work-around” to beat the ICE rules. (Miranda falsely said during a post that the ICE regulations would affect “Dreamers”; it might actually affect students with F-1 visas.)
The post also stated that the planned course would “likely” be run “through the department of anthropology,” although the specifics of the course’s substance and the material didn’t appear to concern most Berkeley students discussing the matter online.
However, some students noted that the plan won’t work.
“F-1 students are only allowed to require one course in a web modality each semester, unfortunately,” observed a billboard who identified herself as Tiffany Earley Spadoni. “I don’t think offering a one-credit hour course will meet the executive requirements. But it’s great to ascertain creative solutions being discussed.”
“Looks like one other possible solution is going to be to ascertain if the univ can make all of the check-in for an outside PE class,” wrote Florinda Ruiz, another user on the Facebook page.
Berkeley is well-known as among the foremost left-leaning institutions of upper learning within us. Last month, Berkeley’s chancellor mourned the murder of a white student by noting that the majority of the campus was upset about the death of George Floyd — a press release that drew widespread criticism, whilst top Berkeley officials doubled down. And last year, a Berkeley instructor called rural Americans “bad people” who deserve “uncomfortable” lives.
Berkeley didn’t immediately answer Fox News’ requests for comment about the apparent decision to circumvent immigration law. Berkeley may be a public institution that receives taxpayer funds for research and education. The plan being discussed by students would have a substantially different purpose because it would create an in-person course for a narrow subset of the university’s population while most classmates attend class remotely.
The ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program released a press release that said students within the U.S. who are enrolled in schools that decide to operate solely online this fall “must depart the country or take other measures, like transferring to a faculty with in-person instruction to stay lawful status. If not, they’ll face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
Fiona McEntee, an immigration lawyer, told NPR that the move “makes no sense.”
“If students can study online successfully from a tutorial point of view, why are we forcing them to return into a situation where they might put their health in danger and also the health of their classmates at risk?”
ICE didn’t immediately answer an after-hours email from Fox News. The Wall Street Journal reported that these students cannot take all of their courses online if their college offers a mixture of on-campus options.
The U.S. is functioning to contain recent coronavirus outbreaks in states like California and Texas and schools are working to work out how best to approach the upcoming academic year. Schools just like the University of Southern California announced earlier this month that it might not resume in-person instruction for the autumn semester.