Washington, 8 July 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Harvard and MIT, two of the most prestigious US universities, have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, seeking to halt an order that would ban international students from remaining in the country if they only attend online classes.
This week, the immigration authorities announced that students attending colleges that are offering online-only teaching because of the coronavirus will either have to transfer to another institution or leave the country.
“The order came down without notice — its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness,” Harvard president Lawrence Bacow said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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,” Bacow said.
President Donald Trump has been pushing hard to ensure all schools are open in the fall, despite virus concerns.
The president hosted a round table on Tuesday, live-streamed on the White House website, which featured educators lobbying for schools to reopen, with many stressing the mental health issues and educational deficits facing students away from the classroom.
Trump doubled down on Wednesday, threatening to cut funding for schools that do not reopen. He noted that Germany and other countries were getting kids back to class.
However, the US caseloads are sharply rising in several hotspots across the south, as opposed to countries where the spread is being contained. Texas, Florida, Georgia and other states are reporting thousands of new cases daily.
The president also issued a tweet disagreeing with the Centres for Disease Control, the main public health institution, which is publishing guidelines for schools to reopen. He pushed back against the “expensive” protocols and said he would meet with the CDC.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, argued that the rule of having to take just one in-person class was actually a “flexibility,” saying that in the past foreign students were not allowed to do classes mostly online.
Harvard called the immigration order “bad public policy” and dubbed it “illegal.”