Western colleges sue over ICE foreign student policy

Western colleges sue over ICE foreign student policy
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A group of 20 colleges and universities in the Western U.S. sued the Trump administration on Monday over a rule change that would force out international students who are attending classes online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest of an increasing number of legal challenges to the new policy comes from schools including the University of Oregon, Stanford University, Arizona State University and Seattle University.

They argued that the sudden reversal of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) policy on foreign student visas is unlawful and gave little warning to schools and students.

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"Schools that had spent months carefully planning for their Fall semester are suddenly faced with a need to completely redesign their academic programming for the Fall, or risk having their F-1 students expelled from the country for failing to attend in-person courses," reads the lawsuit filed in Oregon's federal district court.

In March, as the government scrambled to prepare for the public health crisis, ICE offered a reprieve to student visa holders, who are normally required to attend in-person classes to remain in the country.

ICE reversed itself with little warning last week, saying that any student visa holders in the U.S. would have to leave the country if their schools would be holding classes entirely online.

Lawsuits quickly followed, including from Harvard and MIT, California's public colleges and a coalition of 17 states.

The Justice Department responded to the Harvard-MIT lawsuit on Monday, arguing against a restraining order against the policy. The administration contends that they exercised their lawful discretion to change their policies regarding student visas.

"The July 6 policy announcement is nothing more than a reminder that students must depart should they violate the terms of their nonimmigrant student visa," the Justice Department wrote in a court brief.