Johns Hopkins University sues ICE to stop deportation of international students

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Johns Hopkins University filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the Trump administration from stripping international students of their visas and forcing them to leave the U.S. if they are not taking any in-person courses in the fall.

The Baltimore institution filed the suit on Friday against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in a Washington, D.C., federal court, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The case argues that ICE’s new policy “completely upended” the university’s opening plans for the fall semester. Nearly 5,000 international students are enrolled at Johns Hopkins, ABC reported.

The lawsuit comes after ICE announced Monday that international students would be forced to depart the country or transfer to another college if they are not enrolled in in-person classes this fall. The newest announcement rescinds the plan to grant exemptions for student visa holders. 

Many colleges and universities have turned to online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. While some schools will operate solely online, others have devised a hybrid plan of online and modified in-person courses for the 2020 fall semester. 

ICE’s guidance also states international students would not be exempt from the policy even if a COVID-19 outbreak forces schools to revert to online-only courses.

Johns Hopkins joins other well-known schools such as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that are trying bar the newest policy that has sent higher education leaders scrambling from taking effect. 

Both Harvard and MIT plan to operate exclusively online courses in the coming semester.

The lawsuit calls the administration’s decision “arbitrary and capricious,” adding that it puts Johns Hopkins in the “untenable dilemma” of following reopening plans or offering in-person instruction to keep international students on campus, potentially exposing more people to the coronavirus. 

The school currently plans to operate the semester with a mix of in-person and online courses, and classes will shift exclusively online after Thanksgiving break.

“The adverse consequences of this sudden displacement are devastating financially and personally,” the school said, according to the complaint.

The State Department said earlier this week that international students are welcome in the U.S., adding that the policy “provides greater flexibility for nonimmigrant students to continue their education in the United States, while also allowing for proper social distancing on open and operating campuses across America.”

Tags Baltimore Johns Hopkins University U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement United States
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