States say new student visa rule “fails to consider the harm to international students and their families.”
The battle over Trump administration’s new visa rule barring foreign students taking online-only courses this fall semester has escalated further with 17 states, including two Republican led, filing a legal challenge.
A largely Democrat-led effort, the new law suit is in addition to cases filed by several leading educational institutions including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Johns Hopkins University and tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
Filed in the US District Court in Massachusetts on Monday, the multi-state effort, seeks to stop the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from enforcing the new “senseless and cruel,” rule while the case being heard and eventually its dismissal.
“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,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.
The attorneys general also said that the guidance, “fails to consider the harm to international students and their families whose lives will be upended” and that it “will also cause irreparable harm to the public health and the economy” of their states.
Other states that joined in Monday’s lawsuit include Democratic ruled Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, Minnesota, New Jersey, Colorado, Delaware, Oregon, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Maryland and Vermont run by moderate Republican governors also joined the lawsuit.
Backing the lawsuit by the universities, including the full complement of Ivy League schools, the states say they have been blindsided by the Trump administration after universities and colleges had announced plans for the fall semester, including online and hybrid courses, throwing the whole system into chaos.
“Now, with insufficient notice, zero explanation, and severely depleted resources, colleges and universities are forced to readjust all of those plans to account for whether every single international student, in every single program, will have sufficient in person learning opportunities to maintain their visa status in the United States,” the suit says.
The states argued that the Trump administration’s actions are vindictive and placed not only a heavy financial burden on the universities, but they would also lose the ability to recruit and retain the best students from around the world.
The administration responded in court filings Monday that ICE has the discretion to set student visa guidance, and that just because universities don’t like the requirements doesn’t make them against the law, according to New York Times.
The government also pointed out that the directive allows foreign students to take more online classes than they could have a year ago, when only one virtual course was allowed.
About 100 Democratic members of Congress including Indian American Senator Kamala Harris and House member Pramila Jayapal have sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and ICE urging them to rescind the policy.
Hundreds of thousands of Indian students in the US with F-1 visas for full-time study at an academic institution and M-1 visas for vocational or other nonacademic training will be affected by the new ICE rule.
More than a million foreign students are currently studying in the US with a recent Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) report putting the number of Indian students enrolled in US academic institutions at 194,000 in January this year.
According to a Commerce Department international students contributed $44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018. They also supported around 460,000 jobs in the US in the 2018-19 academic year, international education advocacy group NAFSA estimated.
Joe Biden vows to lift Trump’s H-1B ban if elected (July 1, 2020)
US says foreign students still welcome despite new rule (July 8, 2020)