The schools filed an amicus brief Monday in support of a lawsuit by Harvard and MIT against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect.
The rescinded ruling actually gave worldwide students more flexibility for hybrid class models than were allowed under normal visa rules, but was a rollback of more open rules that were in place for the spring and summer semesters of 2020. Although Notre Dame will be holding classes in-person this fall, the injustice of the policy compelled the University to join the brief.
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. Our more than 50,000 combined worldwide students are an integral part of our communities and essential to our core missions. It mandates students must take at least some of their classes in person to receive visas and enter the country.
The brief said US immigration authorities were "already preventing returning students from re-entering the country" and cited the case of a DePaul University student returning from South Korea who was denied at San Francisco International Airport.
Last week, he said of Harvard's move to online classes: "They ought to be ashamed of themselves".
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Dr Maria Van Kerkhove went on to say that a "comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission". They pointed to the risk of infection not only through large droplets but also smaller particles lingering in stagnant air.
In a previous statement announcing the University's intention to file an amicus brief in support of Harvard and MIT's suit, University President Chrisopher Eisgruber '83 previously wrote that "The announced changes are heartless, senseless, and damaging: they needlessly put worldwide students at risk without serving any legitimate policy objective". Separately, attorneys-general from 17 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit of their own to block the rule.
On July 6, ICE released guidelines indicating that global students taking entirely-online course loads "may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings".
This ruling was made in a court hearing held Tuesday. There are roughly one million foreign students now in the USA, and many universities rely on these students for their business model.
"This heartless policy interferes with colleges' ability to do what's best for their students, faculty and staff and could lead to universities rushing to reopen despite public health guidance", wrote Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein.