ICE announcement and Graduate School support

July 10, 2020

Dear Graduate Students,

Like many of you, we are concerned about what the recent announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may mean for our international graduate students.  As President Eisgruber said in his message, Princeton University is committed to doing everything we can to address and ameliorate this situation for all of our international students. 

ICE has not yet issued a formal regulation implementing its plan, and we remain hopeful that the agency will change course.  We are working with institutions and entities within and outside the higher education community to try to prompt ICE to reconsider this damaging policy.  On the advocacy front, we are collaborating with colleagues at other institutions, the Association of American Universities, the American Council on Education, and university-business coalitions to marshal congressional opposition to the directive.  Since Monday, three congressional letters with multiple signatures have been sent to the Department of Homeland Security; we are pleased at the support from members of the New Jersey delegation. Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce issued a strong statement of opposition.

On the legal front, Princeton is supporting the Harvard and MIT litigation effort through an amicus brief that we, along with a large group of other universities, expect to file early next week.  That lawsuit is pending in a jurisdiction that has favorable case precedent, and we hope that the court will ultimately enter an injunction that will apply nationwide and prevent ICE from moving forward with the rule.  The University of California has also announced its intent to file an action in Northern California, another favorable jurisdiction for these kinds of matters.  Princeton will also be prepared to file its own lawsuit if it becomes clear that mounting another legal challenge in New Jersey or the District of Columbia will increase the overall likelihood of preventing the anticipated policy change from taking effect.  For now, we think it is best to support the Harvard/MIT effort and see what happens; we expect the case to move quickly.

As our announcement about fall 2020 indicated, all graduate students have been invited to campus for the full academic year, and graduate advising and research may be conducted in person.  Our libraries and laboratories are reopening, and the research that graduate students do in them is an integral part of their curriculum as graduate students.    

A number of you have written to us and to the Registrar, wondering whether individual graduate programs will also establish reading courses or other in-person teaching that may enable our international graduate students to continue their studies in person.   Although ICE has announced their intent, they have not yet issued the written documentation that will lay out the details of the policy.  Understanding those details will be key to crafting a response that meets the needs of our international students. Ad hoc solutions formulated now might not work and may not even be necessary, depending on the language of the final rule and on whether advocacy and legal responses to the proposed rule have an effect.

We want to assure you, as we already have your departments and programs, that, if necessary, we be able to accommodate course changes and additions in August in response to this policy, and to any other relevant state or federal policies that might emerge in the coming weeks. 

In the meantime, the Davis International Center continues to be available for individual student appointments.  Additionally, the Davis International Center is planning an information session on this topic, similar to the recent attorney sessions on the various presidential proclamations that it hosted.  Details about it will be shared with all international students in the coming week.

All best wishes,



Cole M. Crittenden, Ph.D.

Deputy Dean and Acting Dean

The Graduate School

Princeton University