Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul yesterday joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to stop a new federal rule that threatens to bar hundreds of thousands of international students from studying in the United States.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), challenges what Raoul and the attorneys general deem to be an unlawful action to expel international students, and have sought an injunction from the law taking effect.
The lawsuit challenges a policy change by ICE to reverse guidance issued on March 13th that recognized the COVID-19 public health emergency, provided flexibility for schools, and allowed international students with F-1 and M-1 visas to take classes online for the duration of the emergency. On July 6th, ICE announced that international students can no longer live in the United States and take all of their classes online during the pandemic. The policy change may force 40,000 international students in Illinois to leave the country.
ICE further demanded that educational institutions advise the federal government by July 15th whether they intend to offer only remote courses in the fall semester. Schools must also certify by August 4th for each international student that the student’s upcoming coursework this fall will be in-person or a “hybrid” of in-person and online learning in order to maintain their visa status.
The lawsuit alleges the administration has violated the Administrative Procedure Act by reversing previous guidance without explanation, input, or rationale provided to government agencies. The lawsuit also alleges the new rule imposes significant economic harm by precluding thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the United States and finding employment.
The lawsuit has received support from 16 state universities and colleges in Illinois.