In a complete reversal of its original plan, the Trump administration backed away from the policy it announced on July 6 and said foreign students could remain in the United States. The change was part of an agreement reached between the White House and universities that had filed a lawsuit against it, reported The New York Times.
Attorneys general in 17 states and Washington D.C. filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday (July 13) in an effort to stop a new federal law that will force international students to lose their visas if coursework moves online in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.
The 18 AG’s, who filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, referred to the new rule as “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States,” according to NBC. They are hoping to win an injunction that will prevent the new rule from going into effect.
“The Trump administration didn’t even attempt to explain the basis for this senseless rule, which forces schools to choose between keeping their international students enrolled and protecting the health and safety of their campuses," Healey said in the statement.
California filed suit against the federal government over the order last week, after Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology went to court with a suit of their own.
The rule has been criticized by states and educational institutions as a way to pressure colleges and universities to reopen their campuses with in-person classes during the pandemic. It comes as coronavirus cases are spiking in states across the country.
Under the directive, students on F-1 and M-1 visas "must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status," Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement last week.
Those who violate the rules "may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings," the agency said.
States involved in the lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia, according to NBC.
Nearly 40 colleges and universities, including Yale, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Tufts and Rutgers have filed declarations in support of the lawsuit, NBC reports.