California to Trump administration: See you in court on student visas

RITU JHA

California State University and the California Community Colleges system Thursday joined California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging the rule that requires international students to either take an on-campus course or leave the country.

In the complaint, Attorney General Becerra asserted that the rule was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

The impact of the blunt order has been felt not just by students but the universities as well, whom many believe are the real target of the Trump administration that wants schools to open despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

The US is the worst COVID-19-affected country in the world.

Schools fear the policy will not just push the international students to take classes in person, it will also put at risk teachers, other students, and the community at large.

The lawsuit states that the rule completely ignores that, among other things, many students may already have signed a year-long lease to rent an apartment or face difficulties being able to travel internationally during COVID-19.

It also ignores that a significant number of professors are older adults who, particularly if they are required to accommodate in-person classes, are at a higher risk of suffering severe cases of COVID-19.

In addition, should SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) students be able to participate in a hybrid program with some classes in person and others online, their university would be responsible for certifying their participation in such a program through a Form I-20.

As a result, ICE would be requiring some universities to complete and verify thousands of documents — only weeks in advance of the new school year — just to guarantee that their students are not potentially targeted for removal from the United States.

“The California State University stands in the strongest opposition to the policy guidance issued Monday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said Dr Timothy P White, chancellor, California State University.

“It is a callous and inflexible policy that unfairly disrupts our more than 10,300 international students’ progress to a degree, unnecessarily placing them in an extremely difficult position. And it deprives all of our students — and the communities, state, and nation we serve — of the remarkable contributions of these international students. The CSU applauds the California attorney general’s decision to take strong action to oppose ICE’s policy guidance, and we will fully support this effort,” he added.

California State University is one of the largest and most diverse systems of higher education in the United States. Chancellor White leads a university of 23 campuses and a global community of 481,000 students, 53,000 faculty and staff and more than 3.7 million alumni.

Attorney General Becerra’s press note did not mince any words either.

“Shame on the Trump Administration for risking not only the education opportunities for students who earned the chance to go to college, but now their health and well-being as well,” he said. “Today, President Trump appears set to do just that — amidst a global pandemic of historic proportions.”

“Not on our watch,” he vowed. “No one graduates more students from college or assembles a more talented and diverse group of future leaders than California. Today’s lawsuit rests on America’s enduring principle that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules can earn a chance to get ahead. We’ll see the Trump Administration in court.”

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said the state was ready to stand up for its international students.

“With this lawsuit, California is standing up for the 21,000 international students who attend our community colleges and standing up for our right to continue teaching and learning in a safe and responsible way during the pandemic,” Oakley was quoted as saying in the the press note.

“We will not sacrifice the benefit of the diversity of experiences and perspectives that international students bring to our colleges, nor will we sacrifice the safety of any student, faculty, or staff member at our 115 colleges. State and local officials are in the best position to determine reopening approaches based on public health conditions. Attorney General Becerra’s lawsuit seeks to quickly turn back this punitive federal directive.”

“The California State University stands in the strongest opposition to the policy guidance issued Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said California State University Chancellor Timothy White. “It is a callous and inflexible policy that unfairly disrupts our more-than 10,300 international students’ progress to a degree, unnecessarily placing them in an extremely difficult position. And it deprives all of our students — and the communities, state, and nation we serve — of the remarkable contributions of these international students. The CSU applauds the California Attorney General’s decision to take strong action to oppose ICE’s policy guidance, and we will fully support this effort.”

Also see

Student visa rule bad for US, universities, world: Vivek Wadhwa

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