California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with California State University Chancellor Timothy White and California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, announced Thursday that the CSU system is filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration, stating the policy enacted by Immigration and Customs enforcement Monday “threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States,” in a press release Thursday.
The policy states that students in the United States on an F-1 Visa who are attending universities not planning to offer in-person instruction come the fall 2020 semester will be deported. Those students looking to enter the U.S. and attend a university that is not offering in-person classes will be denied entry into the country.
“The California State University stands in the strongest opposition to the policy guidance issued Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said California State University Chancellor Timothy White. “It is a callous and inflexible policy that unfairly disrupts our more-than 10,300 international students’ progress to a degree, unnecessarily placing them in an extremely difficult position. And it deprives all of our students — and the communities, state, and nation we serve — of the remarkable contributions of these international students. The CSU applauds the California Attorney General’s decision to take strong action to oppose ICE’s policy guidance, and we will fully support this effort.”
Previously, students studying on a visa were required to take a majority of their classes in-person, but the regulation was lifted when the coronavirus pandemic escalated in March. At that time ICE said that the regulation would be lifted for the duration of the national emergency.
Now just weeks before the fall 2020 semester is set to begin, international students are yet again caught in a whirlwind.
“The Trump Administration’s new policy on SEVP flies directly in the face of guidance it previously issued and advertised as being in place for the duration of the pandemic emergency, which universities and students across the country relied upon to make plans for the upcoming school year and protect the safety and well-being of their students,” the release read. “Moreover, with new COVID-19 cases averaging more than 7,500 a day in California over the last week, the Trump Administration policy threatens to also turn California’s colleges and universities into ‘super-spreaders’ of the disease.”
The group joins the University of California and other entities like Harvard University and Northwestern University in their legal action against the Trump administration in the face of this new regulation. Although filing separately, all parties decry the administration’s decision to enact such regulations in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“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,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Today, President Trump appears set to do just that — amidst a global pandemic of historic proportions. Not on our watch. Today’s lawsuit rests on America’s enduring principle that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules can earn a chance to get ahead. We’ll see the Trump Administration in court.”
In an email sent Thursday night, San Diego State President Adela de la Torre expressed her support for the CSU’s suit.
“At SDSU, we proudly and unapologetically see the development of global citizens as part of our mission,” de la Torre wrote. “We remain committed to supporting the educational journey and success of our current and incoming international students.”
SDSU Global Affairs has been in contact with international students, and de la Torre urged them to “lean on SDSU during this time” and consult their undergraduate or graduate advisors before making alterations to their academic plans.
Update: ICE has decided to reverse the decision and allow all international students to study within the U.S. regardless of class format.
This story was provided through the Cal State Student Wire and was written by Madalyn Amato, Editor in Chief at Cal State Long Beach’s student newspaper, The Daily Forty-Niner.
Daily Aztec Editor in Chief Brenden Tuccinardi contributed SDSU specific reporting.