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Harvard and MIT sue Trump administration over new ICE rule for foreign students

ICE planned to deport immigrant students whose institutions were only offering online courses during the pandemic.

Harvard University Getty Images

On Wednesday (July 8), Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump’s administration over its new guidelines preventing foreign students from taking online-only courses during COVID-19.

Earlier this week, Harvard announced that all of their courses would be administered online for the upcoming fall semester, affecting approximately 5,000 international students, according to CNN.

“The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors and others,” Harvard University President Larry Bacow said.

The lawsuit states that ICE’s new guidelines violate the Administrative Procedures Act and puts the institutions in an “untenable situation” of either continuing with their plans to “operate fully or largely online or attempt to provide in-person learning.”

“Just weeks from the start of the fall semester, these students are largely unable to transfer to universities providing on-campus instruction, notwithstanding ICE’s suggestion that they might do so to avoid removal from the country,” the lawsuit reads. “Moreover, for many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impracticable, prohibitively expensive and/or dangerous.”

REVOLT previously reported that ICE planned to deport immigrant students if their college or university only offered courses online during the pandemic.

“The US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States,” the ICE website reads.

“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,” the site continues. “If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

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