A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.

SAIC Joins State and National Amicus Briefs Challenging ICE SEVP Guidance

Dear SAIC Community,

Last Thursday, you received a message from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Office of International Affairs about the US Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) planned changes to F-1 visa status for the fall semester and actions we have taken to support our international students. SAIC is opposed to these potential changes as they may curtail these students’ ability to study at the School. Today, I want to let you know about two additional challenges to this law we have been working on since last week that were recently made public.

First, SAIC, along with its peers in the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), will be joining an amicus brief in support of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) suit challenging the forthcoming ICE Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) rules. An amicus brief is a formal statement that may be considered in courtroom proceedings from interested parties not directly involved in the case. The brief we joined as part of AICAD was organized by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a group, of which SAIC is a member, dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact students, campuses, and communities. Over 175 colleges have joined the brief in addition to the 36 AICAD schools.

Also, SAIC has been working with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office to join a multi-state legal challenge to ICE’s proposed modifications to student visa requirements. The suit, representing 1,124 institutions of higher education from 17 states and the District of Columbia, was filed today and seeks an injunction to stop this most recent visa guidance from going into effect. If successful, the lawsuit will prevent the proposed changes from taking effect for the fall 2020 semester. SAIC was one of 40 colleges and universities, including Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and Yale University, that made declarations in support of the legal action.

As an international campus that believes the learning environment is enriched by a diversity of thought, perspective, and personal experience, we challenge the proposed changes to student visa status because they diminish the global exchange of knowledge, threaten opportunities for fellowship, and are unfair to international students. If adopted, this unethical change in guidance for international students would undermine the academic climate at colleges and universities throughout the United States, including SAIC. As we continue to support our international students, we will keep the entire School community informed on the progress of these governmental regulations.

Thank you,

Elissa Tenny