Just last week, U.S. officials announced a new policy that would force international students studying at American schools to return to their home countries if online-only classes were offered this fall. The confusion and blowback from the decision was swift, with many prestigious higher learning institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard choosing to fight the decision legally.
More than 1 million international students attend school in the U.S., which contributes more than $40 billion to the economy annually. Data show that during the 2018-2019 school year, those same foreign students supported around 460,000 jobs in the United States, with the majority of those jobs being in higher education itself.
Adding pressure to the situation was the fact that the attorneys general of 20 states also sued on the basis that the policy was reckless, cruel and senseless. In all, the administration was sued by nine universities that added their support to the litigation, in addition to organizations that represent international students.
The day leading up to the court hearing more than a dozen technology companies like tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter came out in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the policy would harm their businesses. Perhaps more surprising was a letter drafted by 15 Republican members of Congress on Tuesday, urging the Trump administration to reverse course on the new policy.
The highly anticipated court hearing took place on Tuesday and lasted less than four minutes, with U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs announcing that the U.S. government and the two elite universities that sued had come to a settlement that would roll back the new rules and restore the previous status quo.
After the announcement on Tuesday that the policy had been rescinded, university officials warned that they would be prepared to return to court should the administration make any further attempts at deporting their students this fall.
“This is a significant victory,” said Lawrence S. Bacow, the president of Harvard, in a statement. “The directive had disrupted all of American higher education. I have heard from countless international students who said that the July 6 directive had put them at serious risk. These students — our students — can now rest easier and focus on their education, which is all they ever wanted to do.”
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