The decision to ban foreign students taking online classes in US universities by the Trump Administration has been challenged in court by Harvard and MIT universities.
Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have filed a joint lawsuit asking the court to suspend an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announcement that prohibits foreign students taking only online classes staying in the US.
ICE directive on Foreign students
ICE had announced that any foreign student in the US who will not be taking part in face to face classes was required to leave the country. The announcement also included a directive stopping the State Department from issuing visas to students who will be coming to the US to study for the next academic year, if their studies will be held online.
These announcements by ICE had been a big blow to the universities, and especially Harvard University, which has indicated that they will conduct their 2020/2021 academic year online. This decision was reached by the university as a way of keeping the students safe and curbing the spread of coronavirus. Havard had also announced that some courses would be carried out in person where necessary.
The directive by ICE had also looked to examine hybrid systems that combined online learning and face to face learning. For students in these programs, ICE said if they deemed that face to face classes was not many, they could also deport these students from the US.
Harvard University statement
Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said in a statement the university would vigorously pursue this case to ensure that international students across the country are able to continue with their studies without fearing that they may end up being deported from the country.
Bacow continued by criticizing the ICE directive by terming it as cruel and reckless. He also argued that the directive was part of Trump Administration’s bigger agenda of getting all schools to reopen in-person class attendance.
The lawsuit said the directive endangered students’ lives and would disrupt normal university programming if implemented. They asked the court to suspend the directive and allow international students to continue with their studies in the country.
President Trump, while offering his opinion on Havard’s decision to not reopening in-person classes and preferring to move classes online termed it as a ridiculous decision. The Trump Administration is pushing aggressively for school reopenings in the fall, and many suspect this directive may be part of a bigger scheme to ensure all students attend face to face classes.
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