RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Attorney General Mark Herring and 18 others joined a coalition that filed a lawsuit to stop the new federal rule threatening to keep international students from studying in the United States.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The attorneys general say the federal government’s “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic . . . has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”
“President Trump and Secretary DeVos are trying to leverage international students as part of an unlawful and dangerous attempt to strong-arm Virginia colleges and universities. Virginia’s colleges and universities are globally prestigious destinations for higher education, but instead of looking for ways to support our schools, the Trump Administration is trying to co-opt them into a never ending quest to deny the realities of COVID and demonize immigrants. Our Commonwealth is better for the presence and contributions of international students to our economy and campus communities, and I will do all I can to fight this hasty, dangerous new rule.”Attorney General Mark Herring
The lawsuit challenges an abrupt policy change by ICE to reverse instruction given at the beginning of the shutdown and allowed international students with F-1 and M-1 visas to take classes online for the duration of the emergency.
On July 6, ICE announced that international students can no longer live in the United States and take all of their classes online during the pandemic. ICE told educational institutions to advise the federal government by July 15 whether they intend to offer only remote courses in the fall semester, and to certify by August 4 how much coursework would be in-person to certify students’ visas.
The lawsuit argues against the federal rule, saying it:
- Fails to consider the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff;
- Fails to consider the tremendous costs and administrative burden it would impose on schools to readjust plans and certify students;
- Fails to consider that, for many international students, remote learning in their home countries is not possible;
- Imposes significant financial harm to schools, as international students pay hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition, housing, dining, and other fees;
- Imposes harm to schools’ academic, extracurricular, and cultural communities, as international students contribute invaluable perspectives and diverse skill-sets; and
- Forces colleges and universities to offer in-person classes amid a pandemic or lose significant numbers of international students who will either have to leave the country, transfer, or dis-enroll from the school.
- Imposes significant economic harm by keeping thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the United States and finding employment in fields such as science, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, business and finance, and education, and contributing to the overall economy.
More than 13,500 international students currently study in Virginia.
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