The Financial Express

180 colleges, universities join lawsuit opposing new US visa policy

| Updated: July 16, 2020 11:54:05

180 colleges, universities join lawsuit opposing new US visa policy

A total of 180 educational institutions in the United States joined the lawsuit opposing the new visa policy for int'l students by the Trump administration.

An amicus brief document filed to the Massachusetts federal district court and released to the public on Friday in this regard.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced a new visa policy for international students and this move prompted Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to launch a legal action against it.

The 22-page document issued by the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration representing 180 higher education institutions showed a nationwide support for rescinding the guidance.

"ICE's new policy serves only to severely disrupt international students' educational attainment, and our country is worse off for it," said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration in a statement posted on the group's official website.

She also said that "This quasi-international student ban represents another unfortunate assault by the administration against immigrants and higher education.”.

The Alliance is composed of over 450 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, representing over 5 million students in 41 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.

The extraordinary number of colleges and universities pooling together so quickly is indicative of the serious nature of the opposition to the brash move, academic pundits said.

The ICE announced on Monday that students currently in the United States 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, if their schools' classes are entirely online in the fall semester.

The measure also stipulated that those in violation would risk "immigration consequences, including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings."

The White House defended the action Wednesday. In academic circles, the decision hit a stone wall.

As of Saturday, hundreds of thousands of signatures have been collected online from supporters of several open letters and petitions that slammed the Trump administration's decision.

The University of Southern California (USC), where a total of 12,265 international students were enrolled during the 2019-20 academic year with around 7,000 from China, announced on Wednesday it had joined an amicus brief strongly supporting the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT.

The University of California (UC) also announced plans to file suit against ICE. The UC's 2019 fall enrollment data showed that 27,205 of the university's 226,125 undergraduate students are non-resident international, while 13,995 of the university's 58,941 graduate students are non-resident international.

"I am deeply concerned about the timing, motivation, and substance of this government action," said Alan W. Cramb, president of Illinois Institute of Technology in the statement released by the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

The public health danger was highlighted by Danny J. Anderson, president of Trinity University, in the statement.

"While so many people in the United States are suffering and recovering from COVID-19, it is even more important that campuses protect and ensure the health and safety of their students," he wrote.

"This ICE policy will have far-reaching detrimental effects on our students and communities," said Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch, who urged more schools to join the movement and to "resist new federal restrictions that threaten the education and wellbeing of international students."

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