The University of Oregon is one of 180 universities that signed onto an amicus curiae brief on July 10 in support of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s lawsuit against the United States Department of Homeland Security, among other defendants, for the July 6 announcement requiring international students to leave the United States if they were to take exclusively online classes fall term.
An amicus curiae brief is a legal document that individuals not associated with a lawsuit, but have a strong interest in the case, can submit in order to influence the court’s decision, according to Cornell Law.
“The amicus brief argues that higher education institutions and international students will experience significant burdens due to the guidance’s arbitrary prohibition, without notice, to online-only courses for international students, particularly after investing substantial resources in planning fall 2020 operations,” according to a press release from the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.
Other institutions that signed on include Oregon State University and Lewis and Clark College, as well as Ithaca College and Boston University.
“These 180 institutions of higher education, representing a diverse array of small and large, public and private institutions throughout the nation, are dedicated to bettering the lives of their students and communities, including during the current COVID-19 global pandemic,” the brief stated.
The original lawsuit, filed on July 8 in Massachusetts District Court, named Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf and ICE Director Matthew Albence as additional defendants.
The suit alleged that ICE’s directive failed to offer “Any Reasoned Basis That Could Justify The Policy,” as well as failing to consider “Important Aspects Of The Problem Before The Agency.”
The lawsuit also posited that ICE violated the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement that “agencies publish notice of any proposed substantive rule in advance in the Federal Register, and that the public is given an opportunity to comment on proposed rules before they take effect.”
“ICE’s action leaves hundreds of thousands of international students with no educational options within the United States,” the lawsuit stated. For many international students, according to the lawsuit, “returning to their home countries to participate in online instruction is impossible, impractical, prohibitively expensive, and/or dangerous.”
The lawsuit requested a temporary restraining order and “preliminary and permanent injunctive relief” preventing ICE from enforcing the policy, as well as a “declaration that the policy announced in the July 6 Directive is unlawful.”
The lawsuit also requested that the original March 13 guidance issued by ICE — that students holding F-1 visas could attend remote classes while retaining their visa status, which the government originally stated would be “in effect for the duration of the emergency” — would be reinstated.