Two elite US universities are suing immigration services over a decision to withdraw visas from foreign students whose courses move fully online.
Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology filed the lawsuit against Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said the visa move’s “cruelty [is] surpassed only by its recklessness”.
Many colleges are moving courses online amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Harvard had on Monday announced it would hold all classes online for the autumn term, with only 40% of undergraduates housed on campus.
The decision from ICE, the federal law enforcement agency within Homeland Security, came shortly after that, saying students could face deportation unless they changed to an institution with in-person tuition.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday lashed out at Harvard, calling its move online “ridiculous”. He has been adamant that US schooling should return to normal in the autumn term.
On Twitter on Wednesday, he issued a threat to funding if schools did not reopen:
What’s in the two universities’ lawsuit?
It was filed with the district court in Boston on Wednesday morning,Harvard’s student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, reported, seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against the visa decision.
The lawsuit argues that ICE’s move “threw Harvard and MIT – indeed, virtually all of higher education in the United States – into chaos”.