~ Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service
On July 14, the Trump administration rescinded a rule it announced eight days ago that would have required international students to transfer or leave the country if their schools held classes entirely online because of the pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, the decision was announced at the beginning of a Boston hearing in a federal lawsuit against the rule by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). U. S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said federal immigration authorities had agreed to rescind the directive and “return to the status quo.”
U.S. Catholic college and university leaders had joined the nation’s higher education community in condemning the policy that would have prevented international students from remaining in or coming to the United States if their colleges used a completely online format in the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary final rule – guidance for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program – was issued without notice on July 6 by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Two days later, Harvard University and MIT filed a lawsuit against the administration seeking a temporary order to block the administration from enforcing it.
The lawsuit said the goal of the new guidance seemed to be to “create as much chaos for universities and international students as possible.”
The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, or ACCU, said the government’s decision is “not only bad health policy, it is heartless.”
“Allowing all students, regardless of country of origin, to be given equal access to online learning is the fair, sensible and moral thing to do. We can keep students safe and keep these young people on track,” the July 8 statement said.
The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities or AJCU, similarly expressed “grave concern” about this guidance and [had] asked Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to withdraw it immediately.
The ACCU, whose members are leaders from Catholic colleges and universities across the country, said to send the international students “home, without a degree, would force them to start their lives over simply because a university is trying to keep its faculty and students safe as contagion levels continue to be unpredictable.” To read the entire article click here