Tuesday 27 October, 2020

Johns Hopkins now suing to block US decision on int'l students

Johns Hopkins University has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration's decision to make international students leave the US if they intend to take classes entirely online starting this Fall.

The Baltimore private institution filed the lawsuit Friday (July 10) against US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in federal court in the District of Columbia, the Baltimore Sun reported. It argues that the decision “completely upended” the university’s reopening plans for the upcoming semester.

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ICE notified colleges Monday that international students will be forced to leave the US or transfer to another college if their schools operate entirely online this fall. New visas will not be issued to students at those schools, and others at universities offering a mix of online and in-person classes will be barred from taking all of their classes online.

The guidance says international students will not be exempt even if an outbreak forces their schools online during the fall term.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have also filed a lawsuit to prevent federal immigration authorities from enforcing the rule. Neither school plans to offer in-person classes this fall.

About 5,000 international students are enrolled at Johns Hopkins. The school has plans for hybrid semesters with a mix of in-person and online classes. It also intends to shift to online-only classes after the Thanksgiving break.

The lawsuit characterizes the Trump administration's decision as “arbitrary and capricious" and argues it puts the university in the “untenable dilemma” of either following its reopening plans or attempting to offer in-person instruction to allow international students to remain enrolled.

“The adverse consequences of this sudden displacement are devastating financially and personally,” according to the complaint.

In a statement earlier this week, the US State Department said international students are welcome in the US, but the policy “provides greater flexibility for nonimmigrant students to continue their education in the United States, while also allowing for proper social distancing on open and operating campuses across America”.

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