Recently, Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it would deny visas for international students attending schools that are operating online. Angered by the decision, many immigration advocates and higher education institutions plan to resist. Harvard and MIT are the first. They are filing lawsuits against (ICE) over the decision. Harvard President Lawrence Bacow denounced the decision saying its “cruelty [is] surpassed only by its recklessness.”
The lawsuit argues for a temporary restraining order as well as preliminary and permanent injunctive relief from the decision. It says the decision “threw Harvard and MIT – indeed, virtually all of higher education in the United States – into chaos.” It continues, the action “proceeded without any indication of having considered the health of students, faculty, university staff, or communities.” And that it leaves “hundreds of thousands of international students with no educational options within the United States.” It argues, “that the ICE order is bad public policy and we believe that it is illegal.”
For international students, elite US universities are highly attractive. That’s why they are willing to pay the full tuition that local students rarely pay. And their full tuition is what is so valuable to US schools. As a result, universities, that are already suffering financially from the pandemic, are likely to suffer further because of the ICE decision.
In response, President Trump lashed out at Harvard. “I think it’s ridiculous, I think it’s an easy way out and I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.” He added: “It’s so important that children at this age especially that they’re together, that they’re together on campus and that’s what we’re striving for.”