For­eign stu­dents in Chicago re­lieved af­ter Trump ditches rule that could’ve forced them to leave col­lege, U.S.

Fac­ing law­suit, im­mi­gra­tion author­i­ties pull rule that would have re­quired schol­ars to trans­fer or leave coun­try if their schools’ classes were on­line only

Chicago Sun-Times - - NEWS - BY COLLIN BINK­LEY AND JADE YAN Collin Bink­ley is a re­porter for the As­so­ci­ated Press. Jade Yan is a Sun­Times staff re­porter. Manny Ramos con­trib­uted to this re­port.

In­ter­na­tional stu­dents in Chicago re­acted with re­lief Tues­day af­ter the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­scinded a rule that would have re­quired them to trans­fer or leave the coun­try if their schools held classes en­tirely on­line be­cause of the pan­demic.

The de­ci­sion was an­nounced at the start of a hear­ing in a fed­eral law­suit in Bos­ton brought by Har­vard Univer­sity and the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy — and joined by lo­cal schools in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of Illi­nois, Univer­sity of Chicago, North­west­ern Univer­sity and DePaul Univer­sity. U.S. Dis­trict Judge Allison Bur­roughs said fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion author­i­ties agreed to pull the July 6 di­rec­tive and “re­turn to the sta­tus quo.”

A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity and U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment said only that the judge’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion was cor­rect.

The an­nounce­ment was wel­comed by thou­sands of for­eign stu­dents who had been at risk of be­ing de­ported from the coun­try, along with hun­dreds of uni­ver­si­ties that were scram­bling to re­assess their plans for the fall in light of the pol­icy. More than 50,000 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents at­tend schools in Illi­nois.

“I’m feel­ing like a lot of things are clearer now,” said Lau­risa Sas­toque, a ris­ing sopho­more at North­west­ern from Colom­bia. “I feel that I have a choice again, and I am no longer forced to put my safety at risk.”

Tan­isha Tekri­wal, also a ris­ing sopho­more at North­west­ern from In­dia, said she is happy that uni­ver­si­ties stood up for their stu­dents and got re­sults, al­though she re­al­izes it was as much to pro­tect schools’ fi­nances as to pro­tect the stu­dents. Many schools rely on higher tu­ition from in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, and some stood to lose mil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue if the rule had taken hold.

Ris­ing DePaul se­nior Jes­sica Ca­ma­cho, who is from Ecuador, said the move was “def­i­nitely a weight off my shoul­ders now that I don’t have to look for open in-per­son classes, as most of my ma­jor classes were of­fered on­line [and] my plans would be to fin­ish this quar­ter.”

Carol Hughes, a spokes­woman for DePaul Univer­sity, said the rule had cre­ated a “pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion” for stu­dents.

“In­ter­na­tional stu­dents have the same needs, fears and con­cerns as all other stu­dents when con­sid­er­ing how to con­tinue their ed­u­ca­tion in the fall and should be al­lowed the same flex­i­bil­ity, with their health and safety as pri­mary con­cerns,” she said in a state­ment.

Un­der the pol­icy, in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in the U.S. would have been for­bid­den from tak­ing all their cour­ses on­line this fall. New visas would not have been is­sued to stu­dents at schools plan­ning to pro­vide all classes on­line. Stu­dents al­ready in the U.S. would have faced de­por­ta­tion if they didn’t trans­fer schools or leave the coun­try vol­un­tar­ily.

Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials is­sued the pol­icy last week, re­vers­ing ear­lier guid­ance from March 13 telling col­leges that lim­its around on­line ed­u­ca­tion would be sus­pended dur­ing the pan­demic. Univer­sity lead­ers be­lieved the rule was part of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ef­fort to pres­sure the na­tion’s schools and col­leges to re­open this fall even as new virus cases rise.

Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials, how­ever, ar­gued that they told col­leges all along that any guid­ance prompted by the pan­demic was sub­ject to change. They said the rule was con­sis­tent with ex­ist­ing law bar­ring in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from tak­ing classes en­tirely on­line.

TYLER LARIVIERE/SUN-TIMES

North­west­ern Univer­sity is among the schools that filed a law­suit over the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s rule that would have re­quired for­eign stu­dents to trans­fer or re­turn to their coun­tries if their col­leges only of­fered on­line cour­ses in the fall.

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