Ill. attorney general joins others in filing lawsuit to stop new visa rule for international students

Intl. students face deportation

CHICAGO, Ill. (KFVS) - Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to stop a new federal rule that could bar hundreds of thousands of international students from studying in the U.S.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, challenges what they call the federal government’s “cruel, abrupt and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”

It seeks an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.

On July 6, ICE announced that international students can no longer live in the United States and take all of their classes online during the pandemic. The policy change may force thousands of students, including more than 40,000 in Illinois alone, to leave the country.

Educational institutions must also advise the federal government by July 15 whether they intend to offer only remote courses in the fall semester.

Schools must certify by August 4 for each international student that the student’s upcoming coursework this fall will be in-person or a “hybrid” of in-person and online learning in order to maintain their visa status.

The lawsuit alleged the new rule and reversal of previous guidance threatened their states by:

  • Fails to consider the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
  • Fails to consider the tremendous costs and administrative burden it would impose on schools to readjust plans and certify students.
  • Fails to consider that, for many international students, remote learning in their home countries is not possible.
  • Imposes significant financial harm to schools, as international students pay hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition, housing, dining and other fees.
  • Imposes harm to schools’ academic, extracurricular and cultural communities, as international students contribute invaluable perspectives and diverse skill sets.
  • Forces colleges and universities to offer in-person classes amid a pandemic or lose significant numbers of international students who will either have to leave the country, transfer or disenroll from the school.

It also alleged the new rule imposed economic harm by precluding thousands of international students from coming to and living in the United States and finding employment in fields such as science, technology, biotechnology, health care, business and finance, and education.

The lawsuit includes 40 declarations from institutions affected by the new rule, including 16 in Illinois: Chicago State University, Columbia College, DePaul University, Eastern Illinois University, Governors State University, Illinois State University, Loyola University of Chicago, Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, The University of Chicago, the University of Illinois System and Western Illinois University.

Others who joined Raoul in the lawsuit include: attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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