PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The City of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh are backing Harvard University and MIT’s lawsuit challenging ICE and the Trump administration’s decision to make international students leave the country if they have to take online courses this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Like Carnegie Mellon University last week, the City of Pittsburgh and Pitt signed onto an amicus brief in support of the Harvard-MIT suit on Monday.

Pittsburgh is one of 26 municipalities nationwide to sign on.

Mayor Bill Peduto released a statement last week denouncing the order to suspend international visas under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program if the student takes classes entirely online this fall.

“This matter will have a direct and deep impact on amici [cities] and their communities. First, amici care deeply about their foreign-born populations (some of the largest in the country) and have a strong interest in protecting the rights and well-being of all students and their families as they seek to complete their higher education in the United States. These interests are reflected in, for example, the adoption of welcoming-city ordinances and policies, the provision of healthcare and public health services to all, especially during the current pandemic, and the provision of funds for immigration legal services.

“Second, the international students enrolled in amici’s educational institutions make significant economic contributions to amici’s communities.”

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Pitt released a statement, saying:

“Today, the University of Pittsburgh filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which challenges the harmful guidance announced last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This federal guidance threatens suspension of student international visas for hundreds of thousands students as universities nationwide respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

“In the brief, Pitt makes clear that the Flex@Pitt program, which enables classes to continue through a range of pandemic conditions with a combination of in-person and online educational activities, complies with federal guidance. However, the University of Pittsburgh argues that the new rules are unjustified, burdensome and misguided.”

More than 200 universities are so backing the Harvard-MIT legal challenge. They argue that the policy jeopardizes students’ safety and forces schools to reconsider fall plans they have spent months preparing.

The Department of Homeland Security says in court documents that the policy is backed by existing law and still provides leniency.

Harvard and MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are suing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal court in Boston.

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the case on Tuesday.

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