State, WWU con­test ICE in­ter­na­tional stu­dent visa rule

The News Tribune - - Local - BY MARTÍN BIL­BAO AND THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Martin.Bil­bao @belling­hamher­

Washington state has sued the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion to halt a new visa rule for in­ter­na­tional students, ac­cord­ing to a state news re­lease.

The rule threat­ens to take away in­ter­na­tional stu­dent’s visas if they do not take at least some in-person classes this fall, forc­ing many to re­turn or re­main in their home coun­tries. The Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment Agency an­nounced the rule July 6, and gave uni­ver­si­ties un­til July 15 to com­ply.

Washington At­tor­ney Gen­eral Bob Fer­gu­son filed the law­suit Fri­day, June 10. The move fol­lowed sim­i­lar le­gal ac­tion from other states and uni­ver­si­ties, in­clud­ing West­ern Washington Univer­sity. Around 27,000 in­ter­na­tional students attend higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in the state and spend nearly $1 bil­lion in the state each year, the re­lease read.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tions will un­nec­es­sar­ily pun­ish in­ter­na­tional students in our state’s higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in the re­lease.

“This is just an­other way the fed­eral government is de­mon­strat­ing an­i­mos­ity to­ward immigrants and that is not ac­cept­able in Washington state. I thank At­tor­ney Gen­eral Fer­gu­son for tak­ing ac­tion and I fully sup­port this law­suit.”

Har­vard Univer­sity and the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy filed a law­suit this week to block the de­ci­sion, and Cal­i­for­nia was the first state to seek an in­junc­tion against en­forc­ing the new visa pol­icy.

“Shame on the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion for risk­ing not only the ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties for students who earned the chance to go to col­lege, but now their health and well-be­ing as well,” Cal­i­for­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Xavier Be­cerra said Thurs­day.

Some in­ter­na­tional students told the As­so­ci­ated Press they may re­turn home, or move to nearby Canada.

Many Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties have come to de­pend on the rev­enue from more than 1 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional students, who typ­i­cally pay higher tu­ition. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has in­sisted they re­turn to in-person in­struc­tion as soon as pos­si­ble, al­leg­ing that schools

are be­ing kept closed to harm the econ­omy and make him look bad.

The guid­ance was re­leased the same day Har­vard an­nounced it would keep all un­der­grad­u­ate classes on­line this fall. Har­vard said the new Trump di­rec­tive would pre­vent many of its 5,000 in­ter­na­tional students from re­main­ing in the U.S.

West­ern Washington Univer­sity filed an am­i­cus brief in sup­port of a Har­vard and MIT law­suit to block the di­rec­tive, ac­cord­ing to a Thurs­day, June 9, univer­sity news re­lease. Brent Car­ba­jal, provost and vice pres­i­dent for aca­demic af­fairs, de­scribed the or­der as cruel and un­fair for in­ter­na­tional students.

“This targeted or­der is both bla­tantly xeno­pho­bic and obliv­i­ous to the re­al­ity of the pub­lic health sit­u­a­tion in this coun­try,” Car­ba­jal said in the re­lease. “At a time of ex­cru­ci­at­ing un­cer­tainty, this pol­icy adds yet an­other layer of anx­i­ety for one spe­cific group of students.”

Though the univer­sity is con­test­ing the rule, it is also pre­par­ing for the pos­si­bil­ity it may be up­held. Car­ba­jal said the univer­sity is work­ing to ac­com­mo­date in­ter­na­tional students and com­mu­ni­cate with them about their op­tions.

The Ev­er­green State Col­lege is­sued a state­ment last week ob­ject­ing to the rule.

“We be­lieve this is a cal­lous, dis­rup­tive, and xeno­pho­bic de­ci­sion. We ob­ject to its im­ple­men­ta­tion. In the midst of an in­crease in COVID-19 cases this rule is es­pe­cially harm­ful and dis­heart­en­ing. It cre­ates an un­nec­es­sary and un­just dilemma for in­ter­na­tional students, who may be forced to choose be­tween what is in the best in­ter­est of their health or their ed­u­ca­tion.

“The de­ci­sion also un­der­mines the val­ues of in­clu­sive­ness and in­ter­cul­tural ex­change that are so im­por­tant to our learn­ing com­mu­nity and the larger so­ci­ety, es­pe­cially at a time when such ex­changes have been di­min­ished due to travel re­stric­tions dur­ing the pan­demic,” the Ev­er­green state­ment said.

The state re­lease said the rule jeop­ar­dizes the health and safety of higher ed­u­ca­tion com­mu­ni­ties and re­duces tu­ition rev­enue for col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties.

“The Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion is un­der­min­ing pub­lic safety de­ci­sions made at the lo­cal level and jeop­ar­diz­ing more than a bil­lion dol­lars in tu­ition rev­enue and eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in or­der to pur­sue a po­lit­i­cal goal of keep­ing schools open in the fall,” Fer­gu­son said in the re­lease

Ad­di­tion­ally, the re­lease said the rule ar­bi­trar­ily forces higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions to rush de­ci­sions on hold­ing in-person classes in the fall. The rule may also force the ex­pul­sion of in­ter­na­tional COVID-19 re­searchers.

Fer­gu­son as­serts the rule is un­law­ful be­cause it vi­o­lates the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Pro­ce­dures Act, a law he has cited in dozens of law­suits against the

Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to the state news re­lease. He ar­gues the rule is “ar­bi­trary and capri­cious” and there was no “no­tice-and-com­ment” pe­riod for the pub­lic, the re­lease read.

“Pres­i­dent Trump and ICE need to let col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties make their own de­ci­sions about the health, safety, and ed­u­ca­tion of their students, not ar­bi­trar­ily and il­le­gally pun­ish schools that want to provide classes re­motely,” Fer­gu­son said in the re­lease.

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