In an decisive turn of events, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T), both Massachusetts based ivy league institutions, sued the Trump administration in federal court yesterday in a move that aims to block the President’s decision to suspend visas for international students, effectively deporting them from the United States if their universities only offered online learning and cancelled in-person classes.
The Massachusetts attorney general vowed to support Harvard and M.I.T.’s efforts to block the rules, which were announced earlier this week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“This decision from ICE is cruel, it’s illegal, and we will sue to stop it,” said attorney general Maura Healey.
The universities argued that the policy was politically motivated and would throw higher education into chaos. It also goes to show the extent of how the Trump administration has been mishandling the pandemic, as well as the other fallouts that came along with it.
This move was widely seen as an effort by the White House to pressure colleges and universities into reopening, according to the New York Times.
“They want to force campuses into the position they have to declare themselves open, or at least in a hybrid model,” says Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.
Harvard is planning to teach its classes entirely online over the next year, with a select few of in-person classes. M.I.T is planning to take the same approach.
The President of Harvard, Lawrence Bacow wrote a letter to the University’s students community, showing support for the international students’ community
“The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others.”
For many of our international students, studying in the United States and studying at Harvard is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. These students are our students, and they enrich the learning environment for all.
Tensions with the Trump administration is growing, and seemingly spanning across different sectors. Come November, it will be a pivotal time for America.