The University System of Maryland will join a multistate lawsuit against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement following last week's announcement that worldwide students may not take a full online course load and remain in the U.S., system Chancellor Jay Perman announced Monday. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.
ICE announced July 6 that global students can no longer live in the United States while taking all of their classes online. Although Notre Dame will be holding classes in-person this fall, the injustice of the policy compelled the University to join the brief.
It reverses previous COVID-19 guidance provided to colleges and universities. There are still no answers for those students who cannot reenter the country or obtain a visa due to COVID-related travel restrictions, though the University wrote that they would do their best to ensure that those students can continue their education remotely. The state argues that the agency's rule has threatened students with few options but to leave before the fall, or for those who returned home for the summer or pandemic, to not come back to Colorado.
There are more than a million foreign students at US colleges and universities, and many schools depend on revenue from foreign students, who often pay full tuition. Colleges say the policy puts students' safety at risk and hurts schools financially.
In Massachusetts, worldwide students rallied Monday afternoon after Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that she was leading 17 other attorneys general in a lawsuit to stop the rule. Even with classes moving online, some universities including Harvard have not reduced tuition.
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The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, which is run by ICE, had permitted foreign students to continue with their spring and summer 2020 courses online while remaining in the country.
The statement calls the enforcement of the rule during a pandemic "unnecessary and cruel", noting that the new rule punishes worldwide students "without cause". Instead, ICE said they must either transfer to a school with in-person instruction or face immigration consequences.
ICE made "the decision to exercise its discretion to "modify" its posture announced in its March guidance", Lelling said, adding that colleges and universities can offer a hybrid approach and have both in-person and face-to-face classes.