Harvard & MIT Sue Trump Administration

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Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on July 8 has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its recent directive urging international students in the USA to leave or risk being deported if their education providers switch to online-only courses in the coming Fall semester. Both the university had this information out in separate statements, reports CNN.

The case is filed with the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts with the aim of getting the move by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) blocked, arguing it breaches the Administrative Procedures Act.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on July 6 that international students who are pursuing degrees in the United States would have to leave the country or risk deportation if their universities switch to online-only courses. The statement reads, ‘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 government agency also provided some suggestions for foreign students as alternatives like transferring to institutions that offer in-person classes or have mixed model of both in-person and distance learning facilities.

The government measure has sparked outrage among international students in the country and schools in general. In response to the move, Harvard President Larry Bacow said in a statement, ‘the order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. 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.’

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Harvard statement further reads, ‘this comes at a time when the United States has been setting daily records for the number of new infections, with more than 300,000 new cases reported since July 1’, adding the guidance from the ICE stands to affect approximately 5,000 international students.

MIT has also provided sharp criticism of the order from the ICE. In a separate statement MIT president L. Rafael Reif said that the measure disrupts our international students’ lives and jeopardizes their academic and research pursuits. The President continued, ‘our international students now have many questions – about their visas, their health, their families and their ability to continue working toward an MIT degree. Unspoken, but unmistakable, is one more question: Am I welcome? At MIT, the answer, unequivocally, is yes.’

Now the US Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s top business lobbying group, on July 8 called the Trump administration’s new policy involving foreign students ill-conceived, warning that it will have a chilling effect on the American economy.  The Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue said the move would “inflict significant harm” not just on American colleges and universities, but all US businesses.’ He also urged the administration to rethink the policy.

In the wake of the corona pandemic, Universities across the USA are increasingly thinking about going for online courses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, on July 5, Harvard University made an announcement that they would be offering all course instructions online during upcoming Fall Semester. The measure will be applicable to the students as well living on campus.

According to Institute for International Education, the United States had 1,095,299 international students in the 2018-19 academic year, an all-time high and the fourth consecutive year there were over 1 million international students in the country. China was the highest student sending country in that academic year with 369,548 students followed by India with 202,014; South Korea 52,250; Saudia Arabia 37,080 and Canada sent 26,122 students.

Of the new coronavirus, the USA has crossed the bleak milestone of more than 3 million cases and 131k deaths. As per the Johns Hopkins University, there are now at least 3,009,611 reported cases and at least 131,594 victims in the country.

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