Kenyan students and scholars in the US have expressed their displeasure over the Trump administration’s order requiring foreign leaners whose classes are moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic to leave the country.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) asked the affected students to leave the US failure to which they will face immigration consequences including deportation.
“Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status,” ICE said.
“If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
Prof. Kefa Otiso, a Kenyan who works as a lecturer at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, termed the order as punitive, saying Kenya should send a protest note to the US government through its ambassador.
“There is no justification in suddenly disrupting the lives of Kenyans in America,” he said.
Trump’s directive has since been challenged in court by several universities including Harvard, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The institutions argue that although the affected students could attend theory classes online from their countries, they would face certain challenges such as time zone variations, unavailable, unreliable, or state-managed internet connections.
“Because of these challenges, many international students could abandon their studies,” Harvard and MIT say in their suit.
There were more than 4,000 Kenyan students enrolled in US higher learning institutions in the 2019/20 academic year, according to Kenya Scholars and Studies Association president Jerono Rotich.
The cumulative number of international students in the US last year stood at over one million, figures by the Institute of International Education (IIE) showed. These students contributed $44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018.
China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Canada had the highest number of foreign students in the US during the period.