Relief to Indian students: Trump agrees to revoke visa curbs
A week after declaring that foreign students, whose courses have moved online, will have to leave the United States, the Donald Trump administration on Tuesday scrapped the controversial directive.
The government said it was dropping the idea for now just as top universities, like Harvard and MIT, took legal action.
Harvard President Lawrence Bacow dubbed this development a "significant victory."
Background: US changed visa rules, warned of repercussions
Earlier, citing the coronavirus pandemic, that has killed 139,143 in the US, the administration had said non-immigrant F-1 and M-1 students couldn't remain in the country if they won't take some of their classes in-person.
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also threatened them, saying not abiding by these rules would invite repercussions "including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings."
Subsequently, top universities went to court against Trump's order
This move, which could have affected nearly 1 million students, came at a time when renowned universities revealed they would shift classes online.
Furious at the federal government, Harvard and MIT filed a lawsuit at US District Court in Boston, seeking a temporary restraining order that would put a hold on this directive for 14 days.
The universities called the order "unlawful."
The universities said some students don't have "means to travel"
"Many of these students do not have the means to safely travel outside of the country and face substantial barriers to online learning as a result of unavailable/unreliable internet connections, time zone variations, and other obstacles," the universities argued in the lawsuit.
Over 59 universities joined MIT and Harvard's fight
The court brief, introduced by MIT and Harvard, was signed by over 59 public and private colleges, like Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Duke University, and Emory University, implying that the Trump administration has drifted far away from ground realities.
President Trump himself found Harvard's decision to hold classes online "ridiculous."
He claimed Democrats wanted schools to remain shut for political purposes.
Administration and universities agreed to maintain status quo: US judge
During the highly-anticipated Tuesday hearing, which lasted less than four minutes, US District Judge Allison Burroughs informed that the administration and two universities, which sued it, arrived at a conclusion. The rules would be rolled back and the status quo would be retained, the judge said.
But the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said future regulations in this regard are still under consideration.
Expert said foreign students are important to US education system
Commenting on the matter, Abigail Boggs, Assistant professor of Sociology at Wesleyan University, said the outrage which the order received showed how important foreign students are to the US higher education system.
However, she opined the case isn't over. "The harm done to how students from outside the US feel about coming is immense," she concluded.