Google, FB and 17 states join fight against US government's foreign students visa order -- read more
The lawsuit filed by US states says that the new rule imposes a significant economic harm by precluding thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the US and finding employment and contributing to the overall economy.
More than a dozen top American technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, and 17 states have joined fight against a Donald Trump administration rule that threatens to deport thousands of international students studying in the US if educational institutions don't hold in-person classes.
On July 6, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rescinded the right of international students to remain in the US while taking online-only courses – an allowance granted in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the ICE statement, students who are in the US on F-1 and M-1 visas fall under the ambit of the decision.
The move gives universities offering online-only instruction until Wednesday to file “operational change plans”.
On Monday, Google, Facebook and Microsoft joined the lawsuit filed by the Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the ICE rule.
Seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, these companies, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, asserted that the ICE directive will disrupt their recruiting plans, making it impossible to bring on board international students that businesses, including amici, had planned to hire, and disturb the recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.
The July 6 directive will make it impossible for a large number of international students to participate in the CPT and OPT programmes. The US will "nonsensically be sending...these graduates away to work for our global competitors and compete against us...instead of capitalising on the investment in their education here in the US", the firms said.
The Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programme permits "alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education or other type of required internship or practicum offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with a student's school".
On the other hand, the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme allows up to one year of temporary employment that is directly related to an international student's major area of study, which can occur either before the student graduates and/or after his studies are complete. Students in STEM fields may obtain a two-year extension of their post-graduate OPT, they said, according to PTI.
Closing off more than half of all international students from participating in the recruiting pipeline for American businesses will thus harm companies and the entire economy, and disrupt reliance expectations based on prior policies permitting international students to remain in the US, the firms said.
Asserting that international students contribute substantially to the American economy when they reside in the US, the legal brief said the departure of these students threatens the ability of US educational institutions to sustain critical mass -- which they need in order to maintain their standards of excellence, to train the American students who will make up the talent pool available to amici and other US companies in the future, and to perform the research that keeps US businesses on the cutting edge of innovation.
According to the IT companies, international students residing in the US make a substantial contribution to the country's GDP and have a particularly significant impact in towns and cities where colleges and universities are located.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, there were more than 10 lakh such students attending institutions of higher education in the US. Reducing by half or more the number of international students residing in the US -- even for a single school year -- will hurt the economy, amplifying the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
International students contribute billions of dollars to the US economy each year. In the 2018-2019 academic year alone, "international students at US colleges and universities contributed nearly USD 41 billion to the US economy and supported 458,290 jobs", the companies said.
The companies told the court that if these students are barred from studying in the US until the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic ends, many of them will not return: they will switch to programmes of study elsewhere in the world. And without international students, many the US STEM programmes will contract sharply and ultimately cease to exist.
17 STATES, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FILE LAWSUIT
As many as 17 US states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s visa policy for international students, calling it a "cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action” to expel them amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court in Massachusetts against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the ICE, seeks an injunction to stop the entire rule from going into effect. It challenges what the 18 attorneys general 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 US".
The modifications also limit many students at normally operating schools from taking more than one class or three credit hours online in order to remain in the country. According to a recent report of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), there were 1,94,556 Indian students enrolled in various academic institutions in the US in January.
THESE STATES HAVE FILED THE LAWSUIT
The states that have filed the joint lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing the lawsuit, in a statement alleged that the Trump administration did not even attempt to explain the basis for this "senseless" rule, which forces schools to choose between keeping their international students enrolled and protecting the health and safety of their campuses.
The lawsuit alleges that the new rule imposes a significant economic harm by precluding thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the US and finding employment in fields such as science, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, business and finance, and education, and contributing to the overall economy.
The lawsuit also includes 40 declarations from a variety of institutions affected by the new rule, including the Northeastern University, the Tufts University, the University of Massachusetts, the Boston University, the Massachusetts Community Colleges, the Massachusetts State Universities, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts among others.
In California, seven international graduate students -- six Chinese nationals and a German -- have filed a federal lawsuit in the Central District of California.