California will sue Trump administration over decision to not allow foreign college students to take online-only courses

The guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has received pushback from universities and lawmakers who argue it puts students in a precarious position and threatens to put them in harm's way in the throes of a pandemic.

Posted: Jul 9, 2020 7:59 PM

(CNN) -- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Thursday that the state will challenge the Trump administration's decision not to allow foreign students to take online-only courses in the US this fall semester, marking yet another lawsuit against the guidance.

"This Trump administration policy turns our universities into hotspots of the disease. This policy is just unlawful, it's dangerous and it's morally reprehensible," Becerra said in a virtual news conference, alongside representatives from California Community Colleges and California State University.

The guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has received pushback from universities and lawmakers who argue it puts students in a precarious position and threatens to put them in harm's way in the throes of a pandemic. Earlier Thursday, nearly 100 members of Congress sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, urging the department to rescind the policy.

"ICE's announcement of their plans to force out or deport international students who remain at U.S. colleges and universities and who are taking a full online course load is cruel and unconscionable," the letter reads. Signatories include Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as Reps. Jerry Nadler of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Visa requirements for students have always been strict and coming to the US to take online-only courses has been prohibited. ICE maintained that prohibition in its guidance, while providing some flexibility for hybrid models, meaning a mix of online and in-person classes.

The agency suggested that students currently enrolled in the US consider other measures, like transferring to schools with in-person instruction.

"If a school isn't going to open or if they're going to be 100% online, then we wouldn't expect people to be here for that," acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told CNN's Brianna Keilar.

As the fall semester nears, universities have had to chart another path forward, taking into consideration the spread of coronavirus. Some have opted to go online, including Harvard.

On Wednesday, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also filed a lawsuit against the guidance. Filed in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the lawsuit seeks to block the directive, arguing it violates the Administrative Procedures Act. The universities argued that ICE's decision not to provide an exemption for online-only courses puts them in an "untenable situation" of either proceeding with their plans to operate fully or largely online or attempt to provide in-person learning.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley echoed similar concerns Thursday, saying: "This is a time where we need to assure our students, not create more fear and anxiety."

"Many of our international students do not have the resources to get back on a plane and go to their home countries," he added.

The lawsuit will be filed in the Northern District of California.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 526685

Reported Deaths: 9684
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1958054760
Riverside38487738
Orange38066653
San Bernardino34017477
San Diego30516568
Kern21228151
Fresno15759138
San Joaquin11958180
Alameda11909192
Santa Clara11030192
Sacramento10174148
Tulare9990193
Imperial9513232
Stanislaus9308135
Contra Costa8176131
Ventura787777
San Francisco698961
Santa Barbara652663
San Mateo5744120
Marin518076
Monterey496634
Merced458351
Kings445356
Solano380638
Sonoma311339
Madera211432
Placer195318
San Luis Obispo192616
Yolo161442
Santa Cruz11964
Butte10128
Napa9809
Sutter8406
San Benito6894
El Dorado6681
Lassen6320
Yuba5334
Shasta3979
Colusa3574
Mendocino3419
Glenn3321
Nevada3161
Tehama2461
Humboldt2454
Lake2111
Mono1451
Tuolumne1442
Amador1370
Calaveras1361
Del Norte900
Siskiyou880
Inyo641
Mariposa592
Plumas330
Trinity50
Modoc40
Sierra30
Alpine20
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It was a slightly cooler day for northern California today, but a more significant cooling is arriving tomorrow, along with a slight chance for showers and thunderstorms over the mountains of northwest California.
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