PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — Pennsylvania is one of 17 states plus Washington DC now suing over ICE and Trump administration new restrictions on international students who take online courses.

State Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed the lawsuit Monday along with the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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In a press release, Shapiro says, “Betsy Devos’s attempt to take advantage of an international pandemic — to push a cynical, partisan agenda that threatens the health and safety of young people who want to pursue an education — is cruel, illegal, and puts our already fragile economy at risk. I’m working hard to ensure that students in Pennsylvania can safely continue their education at universities across the Commonwealth in the fall, without fear of partisan interference.”

The new Trump administration policy says international students cannot stay in the country if they take all their classes online in the fall.

Havard University and MIT have already filed suit against the policy with more than 200 universities and 26 municipalities nationwide signing legal briefs to back it.


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Shapiro says “an outpouring of concern from universities across Pennsylvania” prompted him to file the new lawsuit. Those universities include Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

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

The attorneys general lawsuit says the rule imposes “significant economic harm by precluding thousands of international students from coming to and residing in the United States and finding employment.”

They say it also threatens states in a number of other ways:

• Fails to consider the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff;
• Fails to consider the tremendous costs and administrative burden it would impose on schools to readjust plans and certify students;
• Fails to consider that, for many international students, remote learning in their home countries is not possible;
• Imposes significant financial harm to schools, as international students pay hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition, housing, dining, and other fees;
• Imposes harm to schools’ academic, extracurricular, and cultural communities, as international students contribute invaluable perspectives and diverse skillsets; and
• Forces colleges and universities to offer in-person classes amid a pandemic or lose significant numbers of international students who will either have to leave the country, transfer, or disenroll from the school.

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