Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against the U.S. administration’s new rule that would bar international students from staying in the country if fall semester classes are held entirely online.
The news came two days after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unveiled policies that would force foreign students on F-1 and M-1 visas to leave the country. Over a million students, including Taiwan, are using such visas to study in the U.S.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said his administration is “very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools” this fall as he argued that some schools wanted to stay closed “for political reasons.”
“The order came down without notice — its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” said Larry Bacow, president of Harvard, which announced earlier this week that its fall semester is going online due to coronavirus concerns.
“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,” Bacow wrote Wednesday in a letter to the Harvard community.
During the 2018-19 school year, over 300,000 F-1 visa holders were Chinese, and more than 200,000 were Indians, according to the Institute of International Education.
Critics of the administration’s policy argue that students may not have access in their home countries to the resources, such as high-speed internet and libraries, necessary for online learning. Those from Asia would also have to attend classes with an up to 12-hour time difference.