Minnesota is one of 17 states that have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration to stop a new federal rule that would send international students home if their universities went online only this fall.
The lawsuit was filed Monday, July 13, against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal court in Boston.
The lawsuit, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, challenges what the coalition call the federal government’s “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”
The lawsuit asks for an injunction to stop the order from going into effect.
It comes a week after ICE announced that international students in the U.S. on certain student visas will be required to return to their home countries if their classes this fall are offered only online. In March, ICE allowed students who were in the country on student visas to stay in the U.S., even as most institutions opted to go remote during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every community in Minnesota benefits from international students who make their home here, whether it’s for a year or two or a lifetime," said Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, adding that those international students have made Minnesota “one of the most resilient economies in America and helps us all afford our lives.”
“They deserve to live with the same dignity and respect that all Minnesotans do,” Ellison said in a statement. “Instead, the President has once again chosen to divide us instead of unite us. I did not hesitate for a second to join this lawsuit and will use the power of my office to protect Minnesotans of all backgrounds and keep this rule from taking effect.”
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities filed a declaration in the lawsuit. MnSCU serves 4,300 international students from around the world on its 54 campuses, which are located in 47 communities throughout Minnesota.
The order will likely have a greater effect on schools on the coasts with higher population densities as many had already announced plans for online-only education this fall. Nearly all schools in the Upper Midwest are planning some form of in-person instruction.
Regardless, the order has left some schools confused just what it may mean for them and what will happen if classes go remote in the middle of the semester.
Other states involved in the lawsuit are Massachusetts, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin. The District Of Columbia also joined the lawsuit.
Monday’s lawsuit is separate from one filed by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also asking for a stop to the rule. The University of Minnesota system has signed onto that case.
U of M President Joan Gabel said the system’s planned hybrid teaching model should “reduce the impact of ICE’s decision on our nearly 6,200 international students systemwide.”
“However, we cannot stand by in good conscience as international students are forced out of the country through no fault of their own,” Gabel said in a statement. “We stand with our international students, and international students across the country, in asking that the ICE directive be overturned immediately.”
That lawsuit has another hearing on Tuesday, July 14.