The letter (link in German), which the organisers are still encouraging people to sign, characterises the new visa policy as an attack on international academic exchange that will hinder knowledge transfer, and freedom of teaching and research.
It estimates as many as 10,000 German students may be impacted by the visa restrictions.
“With this new regulation, a week of great uncertainty over elaborately prepared and long dreamed of study and doctoral plans finds a sad climax,” it reads.
“Steps to contain the pandemic are without question needed. We do not however see expelling students who are already in the USA… as a targeted measure”
“Steps to contain the pandemic are without question needed. We do not however see expelling students who are already in the USA and suspending student visas as a targeted measure.
“International students are an integral part of the US university system. Therefore, this builds pressure on universities to hold in person classes even if in terms of the current pandemic development at university sites does not seem advisable.”
The letter was released the same day that the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration announced that it, along with 180 member colleges and universities, had filed an amicus brief in support of Harvard and MIT, who have field a legal complaint against the Department of Homeland Security.
“ICE’s new policy serves only to severely disrupt international students’ educational attainment, and our country is worse off for it,” said Miriam Felblum the executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.
“This quasi–international student ban represents another unfortunate assault by the administration against immigrants and higher education—a ban made especially disappointing given SEVP’s former guidance that promoted and recognised the need for flexibility amidst a global pandemic.”
An official source in the German Foreign Ministry told The PIE that they understood the “strain and stress for those students that are affected” and that they were “doing [their] best to support them.”.
“We also raise this topic in our ongoing talks with the US government on possible easing of travel restrictions,” the source added.
“Nonetheless while faced with the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, we believe that all states must take measures that fit their individual situation.”