Harvard, MIT sue Trump administration over new education policy

Two leading academic institutions are taking the Trump administration to court over its new education policy.

Fox News reports that Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have brought a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a new administration policy that would send foreign students who are only taking online classes this upcoming semester back to their home countries. 

The policy

ICE announced the new policy just on Monday.

“Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” read the statement from ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program. “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.”

The statement continues by stating that foreign students who are in the U.S. and who are signed up to only take online classes this fall “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings.”

The Lawsuit

This new policy was immediately condemned by Harvard and MIT.

“The order came down without notice — its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” said Harvard president Lawrence S. Bacow in a message to the university. “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.”

Accordingly, the two universities have now decided to file a lawsuit, which first will look to obtain some temporary relief to prevent the new policy from being put into effect. Then, of course, the two institutions will be seeking to get rid of the policy altogether.

“For many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impracticable, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous,” the lawsuit reads, according to Fox.

It makes sense

Since then, the Trump administration, through White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, defended the new policy, saying:

I think the policy speaks for itself. You know, you don’t get a visa for taking online classes from let’s say, the University of Phoenix, so why would you if you were just taking online classes generally?

Harvard and MIT are two of the schools that are only offering online courses this semester as a way to address coronavirus concerns. Accordingly, McEnany suggested that maybe students ought to sue Harvard and MIT for, nonetheless, charging the normal tuition rate.

We’d certainly like to see that.

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