The Trump administration has withdrawn its proposed rule issued last week to send international students home if they are taking only online college classes.
The decision comes after a court hearing on a lawsuit by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenging the rule.
On Tuesday, the court was informed that both sides “have come to a resolution” and the government “has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 Policy Directive and the July 7, 2020 FAQ, and has also agreed to rescind their implementation,” Fox News reported.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on July 6 that if a college offers classes entirely online in the fall, students with F-1 and M-1 student visas would need to leave the U.S., transfer to another college or “face immigration consequences,” including deportation.
“Nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes,” the news release read.
The ICE news release said the State Department would also not issue visas for students enrolled in fully online courses, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection would not allow them in the country.
Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to keep the federal guidelines from being enforced, according to The Harvard Crimson.
“The order came down without notice — its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow wrote in an email.
“We believe that the ICE order is bad public policy, and we believe that it is illegal.”
When asked about the policy at a news conference on July 8, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the “policy speaks for itself.”
“You know, you don’t get a visa for taking online classes from, let’s say, University of Phoenix. So why would you if you were just taking online classes, generally?” she said.
“And I would note, with regard to Harvard and MIT suing over this — and all due respect to my former alma mater — perhaps the better lawsuit would be coming from students who have to pay full tuition with no access to in-person classes to attend.”
A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia also sued the Trump administration over the new policy, calling it a “cruel, abrupt and unlawful action to expel international students amid the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States,” Fox News reported.
The lawsuit led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sought an injunction to stop the 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 a statement.
The Federation of American Immigration Reform expressed disappointment in the reversed policy and accused the White House of bowing to “pressure from the business lobby, as well as college professors and administrators who hate everything about President Trump and immigration restriction.”
“Remember, foreign students aren’t simply studying abroad in the eyes of businesses — they’re soon to be employees under [Optional Practical Training] who are more enticing to them than American college students struggling to find jobs,” FAIR head of government relations RJ Hauman told Fox.
“And on the college front, they’re worried that there will be less demand around the world for astronomically high tuition rates if classes are online, instead of including residency with a path to employment and permanent immigration.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.