The University of California announced plans to sue the government over a policy that could bar international students from studying in the U.S. The move comes on the heels of a joint lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the Trump administration.
The guidelines issued Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement would bar international students from staying in the country if they attend a school that offers only online courses during the coronavirus crisis.
Students who are enrolled in online programs "must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction," federal immigration authorities said.
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The University of California said it will seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent ICE from enforcing the order, which UC President Janet Napolitano said was "mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America."
The announcement came on Wednesday, shortly after MIT and Harvard jointly filed suit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security in federal court in Massachusetts.
Like Harvard, the California State University System had previously determined that all students, enrolled on 23 campuses, will take fall classes online.
"The safety of our students and the campus community is our paramount concern and guides what we do," Napolitano said in a statement.
"The idea that the federal government would add to the burden of students and universities working to navigate this global health crisis beggars belief," the statement continued. "UC will fight this blatant disregard for the law and public health with all the legal means at our disposal."
"Other schools depend on these heavy hitters to contest the policy," said Abigail Boggs, assistant professor of sociology at Wesleyan University.
Meanwhile, additional efforts to meet the new federal regulations are also in the works, Boggs said, from developing one-off classes that will have an in-person component to individualized tutorials with students.
All of which "put an huge onus on faculty and students," she added.