As faculty and students at the University of Washington, we are appalled by the new federal directive that would impede international students from continuing their education at colleges and universities if classes are only held online.

This is just the latest attack on immigrants following the Trump administration’s executive order that suspended employment-based H1-B visas last month. This new rule is cruel, discriminatory and inhumane as it forces universities to choose between supporting students who are an integral part of the university family, and the safety of that family and the larger community during a deadly pandemic.

In 2018, there were more than 27,000 international students attending colleges and universities in Washington state, with nearly 8,000 at the University of Washington — the state’s largest university.

The desire to attend higher-education institutions in this country — and be surrounded by a community of learners — is one reason the U.S. is a global intellectual leader. Not only do these students gain from their education in the U.S., Americans gain from their contributions in the classroom and beyond.

Students who have trained in the U.S. have become global leaders across disciplines, showcasing core values that were cultivated as students at our institutions — innovation, entrepreneurship, tenacity, and a commitment to improving health and well-being. Washington state and the entire U.S. benefit when the best minds from across the globe come together to learn and share. The fear that international students take opportunities, jobs and resources from U.S. students is unwarranted, and data show that is a false narrative.

Read the entire story at The Seattle Times. Chenglin Hong (MPH '20), Jen Balkus (Staff Scientist, Epidemiology/Kenya Research Training Center),Unmesha Roy Paladhi & Yasaman Zia (current Epidemiology students), Renee Heffron (Associate Professor, Global Health/Epidemiology), and Ruanne Barnabas (Associate Professor, Global Health) are authors.