Harvard, MIT Sue ICE Over Plans to Deport Foreign Students From Online-Only Schools

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have filed the lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in District Court in Boston, according to Newsweek.

The lawsuit stems from new regulations that would force foreign students out of the country if they attend colleges or universities that are moving to online-only classes for the upcoming semesters amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The new regulations were announced on July 6.

“The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” Harvard President Larry Bacow said. “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.

“We have done so recognizing that the nation is in the grip of a pandemic that poses risks to the health of millions and that threatens to overwhelm our capacity to manage it.”

According to the lawsuit, Harvard and MIT are seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing the government from enforcing the policy which they claim violates the Administrative Procedures Act.

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More than 1 million college students come from overseas and hold F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas which allow the students to “pursue academic and vocational coursework.”

Those visas would be directly impacted by the new regulations put forward.

American Council on Education president Ted Mitchell issued a statement on the regulations while asking ICE to rethink its position.

“At a time when institutions are doing everything they can to help reopen our country, we need flexibility, not a big step in the wrong direction,” he wrote. “ICE should allow any international student with a valid visa to continue their education regardless of whether a student is receiving his or her education online, in person, or through a combination of both, whether in the United States or in their home country, during this unprecedented global health crisis.”

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