HomeImmigrationHarvard and MIT Sue Trump Administration Over International Student Online Instruction Policy

Harvard and MIT Sue Trump Administration Over International Student Online Instruction Policy

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are suing the Trump administration over a guideline that would prevent international students from taking online classes in the US, CNN reports.

On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released guidelines which stated that “students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” according to CNBC.

Students enrolled in educational institutions operating entirely online “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction.”

The Department of Homeland Security has said that “all students scheduled to study at a U.S. institution in the fall will be able to do so, though some will be required to study from abroad if their presence is not required for any in-person classes in the United States,” according to CNN.

ICE has recommended that international students enrolled in programs going online-only in the fall consider transferring to schools that will be offering in-person instruction.

According to CNN, there are more than 1 million international students in the United States. Many are enrolled in schools that will be using online-only instruction for the upcoming fall semester.

Harvard is one of those schools. Earlier this week, the university announced that all course instruction would be delivered online. They say the ICE guidelines could impact 5,000 international students.

Harvard and MIT jointly filed the lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts. They say that the ICE guidelines violate the Administrative Procedures Act and put universities in an “untenable situation” of either proceeding with online-only instruction or attempting to implement some form of in-person instruction.

“It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others,” Harvard’s President Bacow said, according to CNBC.

The lawsuit also says that the guidelines create challenges for international students. It argues that many international students will not be able to access online instruction if they are forced to return to their home countries.

“Moreover, for many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impracticable, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous,” the lawsuit states, according to CNN.

It criticized ICE’s suggestion that international students simply transfer to schools offering in-person instruction.

“Just weeks from the start of the fall semester, these students are largely unable to transfer to universities providing on-campus instruction, notwithstanding ICE’s suggestion that they might do so to avoid removal from the country,” the lawsuit states.

Bacow said that Harvard and MIT are committed to ensuring that international students can continue their studies without worry.

“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,” Bacow said.

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