Harvard and M.I.T. Sue to Stop Trump Visa Rules for Foreign Students



Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration in federal court on Wednesday, seeking to block a directive that would strip foreign college students of their visas if the courses they take this fall are entirely online.


University leaders and immigrant advocates called the new policy cruel and reckless, with several education groups saying they planned to join the legal battle. The Massachusetts attorney general vowed to support Harvard and M.I.T.’s efforts to block the rules, which were announced Monday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.


“Massachusetts is home to thousands of international students who should not fear deportation or be forced to put their health and safety at risk in order to advance their education,” Maura Healey, the attorney general, said in a statement. “This decision from ICE is cruel, it’s illegal, and we will sue to stop it.”

“马萨诸塞州是成千上万名国际学生的家园,他们不应该为了攻读课程而面临被驱逐出境的恐惧,或被迫将自己的健康安全置于风险中,”司法部长毛拉·希利(Maura Healey)在一份声明中说。 “ICE的这项决定是残酷的,是非法的,我们将提起诉讼加以制止。”

The universities argued that the policy was politically motivated and would throw higher education into chaos. It was widely seen as an effort by the White House to pressure colleges and universities into reopening and abandoning the cautious approaches that many have adopted to reduce coronavirus transmission.


“The political intent cannot be clearer,” said Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, which includes the leaders of about 450 public and private universities. “They want to force campuses into the position they have to declare themselves open, or at least in a hybrid model.”

“政治意图再清楚不过了,”高等教育和移民之美国校长联盟(Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration)的执行董事米丽娅姆·费尔德布卢姆(Miriam Feldblum)说。该联盟包括大约450所公立和私立大学的领导人。“他们想迫使校园不得不宣布重新开放,或者至少采取混合模式。”

Harvard is planning to teach its classes entirely online over the next year, and many other universities are planning a hybrid model, with some in-person instruction but mostly remote classes. M.I.T. will have a small selection of in-person classes, but said that most will be online.


Harvard’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, called the administration’s action reckless and said in a statement that it appeared to have been designed to pressure universities to hold in-person classes “without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors and others.”

哈佛大学校长劳伦斯·S·巴科(Lawrence S. Bacow)称政府的行动是鲁莽的,并在一份声明中表示,这似乎是故意在向大学施压,要求他们在“不考虑学生、教师和其他人的健康安全的情况下”开设面授课程。

The two universities said that the new directive would prevent many of their 9,000 combined international students — and hundreds of thousands of students at other universities across the country — from staying in the United States. Their suit, filed in federal court in Boston, seeks a temporary restraining order preventing the government from enforcing the policy because it violates the Administrative Procedure Act.


The American Council on Education, an industry group, said it planned to file a brief in support of the lawsuit, and some 25 higher education associations, including the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of American Universities and the Association of Land Grant Universities, were expected to join.

行业组织美国教育理事会(American Council on Education)表示,它计划提交一份简报以支持诉讼,预计会有约25个高等教育协会加入进来,包括美国社区院校联合会(American Association of Community Colleges)、美国大专院校联合会(Association of American Universities)和赠地高等院校协会(Association of Land Grant Universities)。

“We have heard from many of our members, and they all share the same concerns about the nature of the guidance,” said Pedro Ribeiro, a spokesman for the Association of American Universities, which represents 65 research institutions.

美国大专院校联合会代表65个科研机构,其发言人佩德罗·里贝罗(Pedro Ribeiro)说:“我们听到了许多成员的意见,他们对该规定的性质有一致的担忧。”

ICE said it would not comment on pending litigation.


Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, defended the agency’s order in an interview Tuesday on CNN, saying that the agency was providing more flexibility for international students than in the past, when in order to qualify for a visa, they could take no more than one of their courses online. Now they can take more, as long as at least some of their instruction is in person.

国土安全部代理副部长肯尼思·T·库奇内利二世(Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II)周二在美国有线电视新闻网(CNN)的一次采访中为该机构的命令辩护,称该机构为国际学生提供了比过去更多的灵活性,在过去他们要得到签证的资格,最多只能上一门线上课程。现在,只要有一些课程是面授,就可以上更多线上课程。

“If they’re not going to be a student or they’re going to be 100 percent online, then they don’t have a basis to be here,” Mr. Cuccinelli said, adding, “They should go home, and then they can return when the school opens.”


The Harvard and M.I.T. suit says that the government recognized that the pandemic posed a unique crisis on March 13, when it suspended a rule that students in the country on F-1 student visas had to attend most classes in person. “The government made clear that this arrangement was in effect for the duration of the emergency,” the lawsuit says.


In reversing that earlier guidance on Monday, the universities say, the government has put the ability of international students to continue studying and working in the U.S. in jeopardy, and it has disrupted the careful planning process that many universities have used to restart higher education in the fall, after shutting down campuses in mid-March.


“The effect — and perhaps even the goal — is to create as much chaos for universities and international students as possible,” the universities said in the lawsuit.


International students, many of whom pay full tuition, are a major source of revenue for American universities, and losing them would be a huge blow to the finances of many public and private schools, which are already suffering losses because of the pandemic.


“The financial repercussions to institutions are potentially very traumatic,” said Daniel J. Hurley, chief executive of the Michigan Association of State Universities, which represents the state’s public universities. He cited studies showing that 33,236 international students contributed $1.2 billion to Michigan’s economy in 2018.

“对学校的财政影响可能非常严重,”代表该州公立大学的密歇根州立大学协会(Michigan Association of State Universities)首席执行官丹尼尔·J·赫尔利(Daniel J. Hurley)说。他援引的研究显示,2018年,33236名国际学生为密歇根州的经济贡献了12亿美元。

The leaders of many universities, including the University of California Los Angeles, Princeton and Cornell, issued statements this week supporting their foreign students and criticizing the administration’s directive.


“The impact will be devastating — on the lives of international students, on the ability of America’s top research universities to recruit the world’s best and brightest, and on our economy,” wrote Daniel Diermeier, the chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and Susan R. Wente, the school’s provost.

“这种影响将是毁灭性的——对国际学生的生活、对美国顶尖研究型大学招收世界上最优秀、最聪明人才的能力,以及对我们的经济都是如此,”范德比尔特大学(Vanderbilt University)的校长丹尼尔·迪尔梅尔(Daniel Diermeier)和教务长苏珊·R·温特(Susan R. Wente)写道,该校位于纳什维尔。

Ayantu Temesgen, a student at Harvard Medical School, is one of the students who would be forced to leave the country under the new directive as the school moves all of its courses online. She is from Ethiopia, where the government shut down the internet in the country last week during an outbreak of deadly civil unrest.

哈佛医学院(Harvard Medical School)的学生阿亚恩图·特米斯根(Ayantu Temesgen)是根据新规定将被迫离开美国的学生之一,因为该校已将所有课程转移到网上。她来自埃塞俄比亚,该国上周暴发了致人死亡的内乱,政府关闭了全国的互联网。

She might defer attending for a year, she said, though her M.D.-Ph.D. program already requires about eight years of study.


“If I go, I will be concerned for my own safety because of the political chaos,” she said. “But also, I won’t be able to continue my education as planned.”