CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are meeting with international scholars at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and some are asking for cooperation.
News of the inquiries prompted concerns at MIT’s Cambridge campus.
It isn’t every international student. It’s for scholars who are part of specialized temporary training in their fields of study. But with the ICE checks, comes frustration and fear among some.
Several MIT students told Boston 25 News they feel their fellow international grad students and researchers subject to ICE checks are being treated unfairly. But not all of them feel that way.
"If they come in and check for five minutes and I just have to show them some documents, then I'm fine with that. It's no big deal," post-doctoral student Varun Vaidye said.
In a memo shared with faculty from the MIT International Scholar’s Office, Director Penny Rosser said, "The purpose of the DHE/ICE site visit is to confirm that the employer has sufficient resources and supervisory personnel to effectively provide the training, and that the foreign national is appropriately engaged in that activity.”
In a statement to Boston 25 News, MIT said, "MIT has been clear about the value of our global community and of the free flow of scientific ideas. We are grateful for the dedication, imagination and perseverance of every scholar here at MIT."
A school spokesperson said ICE is permitted to do this because of a new rule that affects those trained in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields who are part of whats known as STEM Opt, a training program for international scholars. Those scholars received the memo after faculty members.
MIT student Miguel Tulla is from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, but has lots of international student friends and says its better that the memo went out, but wishes those affected would have been first to get it.
"I guess it’s better than nothing," Tulla said. "In my opinion it’s better that they had sent this memo than for it to just be nobody knowing and ice getting here without previous warning."
MIT declined our request for an on-camera interview about this, but said they’re sending a similar note to scholars affected by the ICE visits.
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