Early this week, without warning, the U.S. federal government announced it will expel all international students who are enrolled in colleges or universities observing COVID-19 safety guidelines by offering their classes online. This attack on our higher education institutions could dramatically impact nearly 1 million students and seriously damage our reputation as a destination of choice for future leaders from across the world. The financial impact on Minnesota’s colleges and universities and loss of this talent pool of well-educated future employees will further damage our state’s short and long-term economic well-being.

Warmly welcoming students from other countries and supporting them during their stay in Minnesota was this organization’s original mission – and our slogan was simply “They arrived as strangers, may they depart as friends.” Over time, we saw how these friendships became “two-way streets” of understanding and partnerships, and our literature reminded members that “You Have Friends Everywhere in the World.”

While Global Minnesota is a non-partisan, nonprofit membership organization that stays strictly non-partisan, we are fiercely committed to our values, our mission, and to honoring the heritage we’ve inherited from our founders. We cannot stand by and watch 70 years of work be undermined in this way.

This order by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency is receiving severe criticism. Harvard University and MIT have sued, the University of Minnesota filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit, university leaders are speaking out about the chaos being created for institutions and students alike, and some members of Congress are taking up the issue as crucial to the nation’s future.

If you agree that this should not stand, please consider the following:

  • Call, email, and write both Minnesota senators and your representatives in Congress.
  • Send a letter to the editors of newspapers, magazines, journals, and other publications.
  • Join the social media outcry and encourage others to speak up for international students.
  • Contact your alma mater and find out how you can support their efforts – all are impacted.

Global Minnesota was founded 70 years ago to ensure that international students were properly greeted and supported throughout their time in our state. At that time, there were alarming stories in the media about young men and women coming to study in our country being met with racism and discrimination. One example was an especially alarming incident highlighted in the national magazine, The Church Woman, that caught the attention of Gladys Brooks, one of our “founding mothers.” Ms. Brooks raised this example in a luncheon speech to our local Metropolitan Council of Church Women:

Over 30,000 young men and women from 121 foreign countries are in our colleges today. We know their impressions of America will be good or otherwise, depending upon the experiences they have while here. We also know these outstanding students may take positions of responsibility in their home countries, and that their impression will influence other decisions. It is very important that you and I play our small part in showing these visitors what this great country of ours is really like.

This past year has been difficult for everyone, including international students who had their entire educational experience turned upside down. Global Minnesota has been working to provide support and we are grateful to all of our members who have stepped up in this effort.

Minnesotans are famous for making our voices heard. Global Minnesota is proud to be part of this tradition.