Johns Hopkins sues to block rule on international students

Coronavirus

A general view of The Johns Hopkins University on March 28, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. The school is shut down due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Just in: More than 200 schools back lawsuit over foreign student rule

BALTIMORE (AP) — Johns Hopkins University has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration’s decision to make international students leave the U.S. if they intend to take classes entirely online starting this fall.

The Baltimore private institution filed the lawsuit Friday against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal court in the District of Columbia, the Baltimore Sun reported. It argues that the agency’s decision “completely upended” the university’s reopening plans for the upcoming semester.

ICE notified colleges Jully 6 that international students will be forced to leave the U.S. or transfer to another college if their schools operate entirely online this fall. New visas will not be issued to students at those schools, and others at universities offering a mix of online and in-person classes will be barred from taking all of their classes online.

The guidance says international students won’t be exempt even if an outbreak forces their schools online during the fall term.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have also filed a lawsuit to prevent federal immigration authorities from enforcing the rule. Neither school plans to offer in-person classes this fall.

About 5,000 international students are enrolled at Johns Hopkins.

The school has plans for hybrid semesters with a mix of in-person and online classes. It also intends to shift to online-only classes after the Thanksgiving break.

The lawsuit characterizes the Trump administration’s decision as “arbitrary and capricious” and argues it puts the university in the “untenable dilemma” of either following its reopening plans or attempting to offer in-person instruction to allow international students to remain enrolled.

“The adverse consequences of this sudden displacement are devastating financially and personally,” according to the complaint.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment from the newspaper.

In a statement earlier this week, the U.S. State Department said international students are welcome in the U.S., but the policy “provides greater flexibility for nonimmigrant students to continue their education in the United States, while also allowing for proper social distancing on open and operating campuses across America.”

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