The University of California, Harvard, and MIT have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over new guidelines to ban international students in the U.S.
What We Know:
- So far, three major universities, the University of California, Harvard, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have filed a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Department of Homeland Security.
- On Monday, ICE issued new guidelines where international students living in the U.S. would need to leave the country if they attend a school that only offers online courses during the COVID-19 health crisis. The students enrolled in the online programs would need to depart the country or transfer to a university that offers in-person classes.
- These new guidelines mandate international students with F-1 and M-1 visas transfer to an institution offering in-person instruction or risk “immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”
- The University of California said the lawsuit would seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to bar ICE from enforcing an order that U.C. President Janet Napolitano called “mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America.”
- “At a time when college students across America are struggling to deal with the challenges and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic while focusing on their studies, this capricious and illegal order from the federal government plunges them into deeper anxiety and uncertainty,” said Napolitano. “It is illegal, unnecessary, and callous.”
- On Friday, a Boston federal judge set a hearing for next Tuesday at 3 p.m. for the lawsuit filed by MIT and Harvard that challenges the new rules to enforce the international student ban on students that are enrolled in online schools. Both universities filed the federal lawsuit on Wednesday to block the new policy issued on Monday after Harvard formally announced that all of their undergraduate classes would only be available online in the fall. MIT will offer limited in-person classes available to seniors.
- In a letter on Thursday, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey, US Representative Ayanna Pressley, and other members of Congress expressed to ICE and Homeland Security that the threat to deport students and alternatives offered was “cruel and senseless.”
“With fall terms beginning in just a few weeks at many colleges across the country, along with required quarantine periods before classes begin, it is too late for many students to transfer to equivalent academic programs,” lawmakers said.
- “Moreover, it is unwise to force students in the United States to travel at a time when the CDC recommends that individuals “avoid all nonessential international travel,” they continued. “ICE’s announcement of their plans to force out or deport international students who remain at U.S. colleges and universities and who are taking a full online course load is cruel and unconscionable. “
The universities, along with lawmakers, are all concerned that ICE’s guidance is motivated not by public health considerations, but rather by “animus toward immigrants.”