Pennsylvania, other states sue Trump administration over international student rule

The lawsuit challenges a rule that would force international students taking only online classes to leave the country.

Pennsylvania joins 16 states in suing the Trump administration over a rule that bars international students from studying online in the U.S. / PHOTO: Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a press conference in December 2019. | THE OFFICE OF GOVERNOR TOM WOLF / FLICKR

Pennsylvania joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s administration over a rule that intends to bar international students from studying exclusively online while in the United States.

The attorneys general who filed the suit “challenge the federal government’s cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students or force campuses to be less safe amidst the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States,” according to the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro joined the lawsuit due to “an outpouring of concern from universities across Pennsylvania” among other reasons, according to a press release on his website.

“Betsy Devos’s attempt to take advantage of an international pandemic — to push a cynical, partisan agenda that threatens the health and safety of young people who want to pursue an education — is cruel, illegal, and puts our already fragile economy at risk,” Shapiro said, according to the release.

ICE released guidelines requiring international students to take in-person classes when on U.S. soil or leave the country if their schools opt for classes entirely online amid COVID-19 on July 6, The Temple News reported.

Other states participating in the lawsuit include Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin.

More than 200 universities supported a separate lawsuit started by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenging the restrictions, AP News reported.

The international student community at Temple University should not be affected by the ICE guidelines, since Temple intends to adopt a hybrid program of instruction for the Fall 2020 semester, allowing international students to fulfill the requirement to stay in the U.S., The Temple News further reported.

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