Statement on New ICE Guidelines on International Students

CONTACT: Howie Berman
703-894-2900 ext. 106

The undersigned language education organizations, representing tens of thousands of language educators nationwide, are deeply alarmed by recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance that prohibits international students from remaining in or returning to the U.S. to continue their studies at colleges and universities this fall if those institutions do not offer at least some in-person instruction.

“At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is putting extraordinary pressure on our educators and learners, we require policies that are flexible and supportive”, said Bridget Yaden, ACTFL President. “The physical and mental well-being of students is not being prioritized in this policy change.”

This new ICE guidance could affect up to one million international students at institutions across the country. While the impact that these students have on the U.S. economy is great ($45 billion is 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce), it’s the depravity of this policy that compels us to speak out against it.

This change in policy is cruel, it is irresponsible, it is xenophobic, and it is antithetical to the values of the language education profession: diversity, empathy, interculturality, equity, and community. As educators, we stand with students—OUR students—regardless of their country of origin, in their pursuit of a high-quality education in a safe environment and support all legal challenges to this short-sighted guidance.

Language connects. This policy does nothing but divide.


American Association of Teachers of French (AATF)

American Association of Teachers of German (AATG)

American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ)

American Association of Teachers of Spanish (AATSP)

Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL)

Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL)

Pacific Northwest Council for Languages (PNCFL)

Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT)

Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT)