Stanford, USC back Harvard, MIT lawsuit on student visa rules

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Outraged by the blunt decision by the Department of Homeland Security to deport international students if they do not attend on-campus classes, more major universities are supporting the lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT to stop the Trump administration from enforcing the new rules.

Stanford University president Marc Tessier-Lavigne, in a statement sent out July 8, said: “We are joining our peer institutions in an amicus brief to support Harvard and MIT in a lawsuit filed today to prohibit enforcement of the new rules.”

Carol Lynn Folt, president of the University of Southern California, tweeted: “USC has joined an amicus brief strongly supporting the lawsuit recently filed by @MIT and @Harvard and we are actively considering all other legal options.”

Tessier-Lavigne also wrote a letter to Chad Wolf, acting secretary, Department of Homeland Security, to rescind the June 6 announcement and instead extend the flexibility provided in the April 2020 guidance on this issue, which enabled the higher education sector to quickly transition to online education.

The visa rules announcement forces international students and institutions to make choices they should never have to make, the Stanford University president wrote in an emailed reply to indica News.

“At Stanford, we stand in full support of our international community,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote. “Our international students have come to the United States to fulfill a lifelong dream to study and learn, and once here, they become a part of the fabric of our community. We must keep the commitments we made when we first welcomed them here to study in the United States and allow them to continue to make progress toward completing their degrees. In addition, welcoming talented people from around the globe to come to America’s leading research universities is not only essential to the discovery and transmission of knowledge but it also contributes to the innovative work being done to create a brighter future for our nation.”

USC president Folt tweeted: “We are also working with our Congressional delegation and fellow universities on legislative and other solutions to this terribly misguided decision. We will send out more information soon.”

The USCIS did not reply to an emailed query from indica News for comment on why it is necessary for an international student to physically attend the classes.

The DHS announced July 6 that the new rule would provide that nonimmigrant students cannot be physically attending universities in the United States if they are taking all of their courses online in all 2020. Under the rule, they will be given a student visa only if they will be taking some courses in person, and if they are here and the pandemic circumstances do not allow them to take an in-person course, they must either leave the United States or transfer to another university offering in-person courses.

The National Humanities Alliance, a nationwide coalition of organizations advocating for the humanities, has called on ICE to reverse the student visa rules decision and urging members of Congress to pressure ICE to reverse it.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy DHS secretary, defended the policy during an interview with CNN…”If they’re not going to be a student or they’re going to be 100 percent online, then they don’t have a basis to be here,” Cuccinelli said. “They should go home, and then they can return when the school opens.”

According to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released by the Institute of International Education (IIE), there are more than a million international students in the US. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students contributed $44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018, an increase of 5.5 percent from the previous year.

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