LETTER TO THE EDITOR: GSG’s fund for foreign students is an important step


This week, USC’s Graduate Student Government will open the first known emergency fund for international and undocumented students at an American university. The fund will provide emergency support for students facing revocation of their student visas as a result of the current administration’s actions (including this week’s updated executive order barring the citizens of six Muslim countries from entering the United States) and also enable students who have benefited from the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program to pay the required fees to renew their DACA status (if the program continues).

As the chief designers of the fund, we feel a need to forthrightly address potential criticisms of this action and to explain why this fund reflects the best traditions of the University of Southern California and of American higher education.

Colleges and universities rely on the contributions of students, staff and faculty from around the world, regardless of their immigration status, religion or national origin. At USC and countless other universities, these individuals provide the expertise that powers the innovations in social science and science that American citizens rely on in their daily lives. They produce the technologies that make our cities more sustainable and productive, conduct the medical research that results in cures for our diseases and provide solutions to many of the most pressing problems that we face. They also teach our classes, imparting their knowledge and sharing their skills, without checking to see whether their students are of the “correct” religion or possess the “correct” documentation. 

In addition, these students provide much more financial support to public and private universities than they receive from them. According to the Institute of International Education, nearly 70 percent of international students pay tuition entirely out of pocket, contributing billions of dollars that universities use for grant and scholarship aid. In many cases, undocumented and international students — including students from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — provide the necessary revenue that allows needy domestic students to access educational opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

They also give back to our University community in countless other ways. They lead our student groups, participate in our sports teams and contribute their artistic and scientific talent in our classrooms and performance spaces.

The bottom line is that these students are integral parts of our campus community. Their presence enriches (both literally and figuratively) the experience of all students, including domestic students, who are in no way disadvantaged by giving back to them a small fraction of the financial and moral support that they have provided to this institution for decades. To pit domestic students against international students, arguing that providing additional support to the latter means taking away from the former, is not only ugly and divisive; it is also a lie. 

With this fund, we are demonstrating both our solidarity with and our commitment to our fellow students, staff and faculty who face an unprecedented and un-American assault from forces who seek to obscure the essential contributions that immigrants and refugees have made and continue to make to this country. We will continue to identify and pursue opportunities to stand with them in the months and years to come, mindful of the fact that the Trojan family includes undocumented and Muslim students, and that this University could not and would not be nearly as vibrant or prosperous without them. 

USC Price Student Organization Coalition

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Just to be clear, are there faculty and staff teaching or otherwise working at USC without “proper documentation”? This is decidedly illegal, and presents the University with tremendous legal exposure. Is this undisclosed “guest contributor” sanctioning this?

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • ken brown

    So your lumping ” International and Undocumented ( aka Illegal ) ” Students together ? I thought this was the Daily Trojan not The Daily Californian.

    • Benjamin Roberts

      Well-said. I have been attempting to post my similar thoughts on this issue, but they are being deleted.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.
    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.
    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.
    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.

  • Benjamin Roberts

    Are guest contributors normally permitted to contribute anonymously? Even as one posting comments I prefer to state my name, but certainly someone contributing a column should state their name. In any event, this little piece of defense is in a word, pathetic. Let’s discuss why.

    First: It conflates issues of studying internationally with being present in a country illegally. International students, and illegal immigrants are not the same thing. International students must possess a valid student visa in order to study here in the US. This is the law, and has nothing to do with President Trump. Visas can be approved, denied.. and yes, revoked. International students are not necessarily looking to immigrate to the US. Some are; some aren’t. Illegal immigrants are present in the US illegally. There can be many reasons or excuses, but likening illegal immigrants studying at USC to international students at USC is a total insult to the vast majority of international students at USC who applied for and hold valid student visas. Indeed, there can be overlap on this issue if an international student overstays his or her visa… and is thus in the country illegally.

    Second: This guest contributor goes on to suggest that the USC community is enriched by everyone, regardless of their religion or “immigration status”… and that they teach our classes, again, regardless of whether they have the correct “documentation”. Really? Is this their position? Because again, the law is very clear about working in the US without the “correct documentation”. It’s called working ILLEGALLY…. and frankly if there are any faculty or staff working at USC without the correct “documentation”, this exposes the University to tremendous liability. Also, same reminder as earlier:
    This has been the law for years, and has nothing to do with President Trump or his temporary travel ban.

    Finally: This column continues the dishonest and disingenuous rhetoric often used to excuse people here illegally, by willfully confusing issues of legal and illegal immigration (and in this case, issues of immigration with studying internationally). There is no question that immigrants contribute in a variety of positive ways… and that international students enrich our campus and classes. But our country also has laws that govern immigration and international study. The United States welcomes thousands of new citizens who have followed the process of law every year… as well as thousands of students from abroad who have applied for student visas to study at American universities. I know this personally, as I am a first generation immigrant who attended USC, legally, completing lots of additional paperwork every year, providing (among other things) my alien registration number. Will money from the GSG fund also go toward visa application fees of international students studying at USC legally?
    Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Studying at USC (as a domestic or international student) is a privilege, not a right. I think we should celebrate and honour the contributions of those who have made sacrifices through following the law, not avoiding it.