The Trump administration will allow international college students to stay in the United States regardless of whether their universities hold classes in person this fall, a change in policy that came as a surprise to many.
The news comes a week after ICE announced that foreign students would be required to transfer schools or leave the country if their colleges move all classes online due to COVID-19 concerns. Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed a lawsuit arguing that the mandate was created unlawfully and contradicted previous guidance from federal immigration officials, the Associated Press reported. A federal judge was scheduled to hear oral arguments on Tuesday but, in a twist, announced at the beginning of court proceedings that the administration and the universities had come to a resolution and would return to the status quo, according to The Hill.
The reversal of course came after an outpouring of social media outrage over the policy. Activists used the hashtag #studentban to protest the announcement, calling it an example of “institutionalized xenophobia,” while others said it was a sign of the administration’s “viciousness” and a “slide into fascism.” Many took the opportunity to bash the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency behind the would-be mandate.
The nextGEN community is calling for #TeamRhetoric and others to join us once again in advocating against atrocities faced by international students:— nextGEN (@nextGEN_RC) July 8, 2020
"Advocacy Call to Challenge Institutionalized Xenophobia Against International Students"#StudentBanhttps://t.co/cVFAmPr4HJ
The only way to stop this slide into fascism is to #VoteBlue.— John Pavlovitz (@johnpavlovitz) July 7, 2020
Please register to vote so we can become a nation defined by more than this ever-bottom-seeking viciousness.#StudentBan https://t.co/EgxGv2Qh3G
Some 59 other colleges, including seven Ivies, joined Harvard and MIT in the lawsuit. While schools largely supported the outcry over what many called an injustice, Forbes reported that finances were the chief motivator of the lawsuit. Approximately 1.1 million foreign students are enrolled in American universities. Losing these students, who often pay full tuition and support the jobs of hundreds of thousands of academics and college staff, would have cost universities $41 billion, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
The move brought praise from some of the White House's most vocal critics.
This is a major victory for the students, organizers and institutions of higher education in the #MA7 and all across the country that stood up and fought back against this racist and xenophobic #StudentBan.— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) July 14, 2020
Together, the work continues. https://t.co/gofzAecNJC
I’m glad the Trump admin agreed to rescind this dangerous & xenophobic #StudentBan policy after we demanded they reverse course & MA schools sued them. I’ll keep fighting to make sure it stays that way.— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 14, 2020
When we fight back, we can make a real difference.https://t.co/7HRFZ486Ah https://t.co/cXBcSmoDqy
At the time of this writing, ICE had not released a statement on the Trump administration's decision to rescind the policy.