NEW YORK, Jul 14: Seventeen states sued the Trump administration seeking to block a new rule that would revoke the visas of foreign students who take classes entirely online in autumn.
According to media reports the rule, issued a week ago, would upend months of careful planning by colleges and universities, the lawsuit says, and could force many students to return to their home countries during the pandemic, where their ability to study would be severely compromised.
“The Trump administration didn’t even attempt to explain the basis for this senseless rule, which forces schools to choose between keeping their international students enrolled and protecting the health and safety of their campuses,” Maura Healey, the Massachusetts attorney general, said in a statement announcing the suit, which accuses the administration of violating the Administrative Procedure Act.
The action, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, is the latest legal effort to contest the federal edict, which has been described by states and universities in court filings as a politically motivated attempt by the Trump administration to force universities to hold in-person classes this fall, even as many have announced they will remain largely online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
California filed its own lawsuit last week, after Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had already gone to court seeking to block the new rule. Arguments in the Harvard and MIT case are scheduled to be heard Tuesday, also in the district court in Boston.
The federal guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which says foreign students earning their degrees entirely online cannot stay in the United States, has sent students scrambling to enroll in in-person classes that are difficult to find. Many universities are planning to offer a mix of online and in-person classes to protect the health of faculty, students and their surrounding communities during the pandemic.