Harvard University and MIT Sue Trump Administration over International Student Policy

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Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have sued the Trump administration decision saying that International college students should leave the country if their courses go entirely online because of the coronavirus.

The universities, in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday at the US District Court in Boston, requested a temporary restraining order to pause the July 6 government order. The order was “unlawful”, said the universities, asking the court to stop the US Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement from the enforcing federal guidelines that will force international students to leave America.

A temporary restraining order will put the Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy on hold for 14 days. In court papers, the universities said they relied on the Department of Homeland Security’s policy from March that allowed foreign students in the US to remain and to allow new students to arrive this fall.

The controversial order said foreign students pursuing degrees in America would have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switched to online-only classes in the fall semester.

The US Department of State would not issue visas to students in schools or programmes that are fully online for the fall semester nor would the US Customs and Border Protection allow the students to enter the US, said a press release by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The agency suggested that students consider other measures like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.

According to a report in The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University President Lawrence Bacow said in an email that the order came down without notice, its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. “We believe that the ICE order is bad public policy, and we believe that it is illegal… We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and international students at institutions across the country – can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” Mr Bacow said, according to the report.

The order potentially impacts thousands of Indian students.