Carnegie Mellon University

July 9, 2020

Dear Members of the Carnegie Mellon Community: 

As Provost Garrett communicated earlier this week, the Carnegie Mellon University community is deeply troubled by the recent disruptive and hasty guidelines that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced on July 6. 

Forcing any international student who is in the United States legally to transfer or leave the country at this unprecedented time is profoundly misguided and painfully cruel. Furthermore, these and other rash, anti-immigration actions threaten to erode the very foundation of the American university system and its powerful and positive impact on economic prosperity and our national security.

I share the concerns of many of you regarding the short- and long-term impacts these measures announced by ICE may have on the CMU community, and the desire for urgent and corrective action. CMU is committed to using every tool at our disposal to advocate against these damaging guidelines, protect our students, and safeguard the intellectual vitality of our academic institutions that hangs in the balance. Recent actions include:

  • Amicus Brief: We are filing an amicus brief in the lawsuit that Harvard and MIT brought against the Department of Homeland Security and ICE on Tuesday. While we considered filing an independent lawsuit, we have been advised that providing our full and complete support to the lawsuit already underway is the most effective means of assuring that these issues are fairly and quickly heard by a court, and the best option for a broad solution.
  • Partnership with AAU/APLU: Working directly with our colleagues at the Association of American Universities (AAU) and Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU), we are exploring other legal and policy options, as well as other university actions, to mitigate the potential impact of these guidelines. As part of this ongoing collaboration with these organizations, I am also working with several leaders at institutions from across the nation to expand advocacy efforts on the wide range of issues impacting international students and our commitment to an open research environment.
  • Mobilizing Congressional Opposition: CMU’s Government Relations team is working with Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle to encourage them to sign letters objecting to these recent guidelines. Partners in the Pittsburgh business community are also joining this effort. We are gratified to have the opportunity to work closely with our Graduate Student Assembly (GSA), a national leader in student advocacy, on this outreach.
  • Institutional Sign-On Letter: Working with our partners at the American Council on Education (ACE), CMU is signing a joint letter together with higher education institutions across the nation. This letter will be sent to the Department of Homeland Security to strongly urge the department to withdraw this guidance and instead extend flexibility provided in April 2020 to international students who have a valid F-1 or M-1 visa, or are awaiting visa processing, and are enrolled in a full-time course load for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Planning for Fall: In the meantime, our academic leadership, including the provost, vice provosts, deans and department heads, will continue their significant efforts to ensure that in-person course options are available to our international students in the hybrid educational model for the fall so as to mitigate impact on their education in the event the guidance remains in effect. 

Unfortunately, this recent issue is just one of many we have been tackling to counteract the unjust scapegoating of international students and scholars. We are also working to advocate against proposed changes to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and several pending federal measures that have the potential to significantly impact research conducted by U.S. universities. CMU will continue to engage our Congressional representatives and government officials to strongly advocate for a measured approach to protecting our national interest while preserving the foundational values that have made the U.S. research and education system the envy of the world. 

To the members of our international campus community, without hesitation and with heartfelt affirmation, let me restate our commitment to you. We value you and we will always continue to welcome and support you in pursuing your ambitions at CMU. 

Safeguarding our globally inclusive mission is nothing less than protecting the essence of what makes CMU – and all higher education institutions – engines for creativity, innovation and opportunity at a time when the nation needs us more than ever. 


Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman Chair