The Trump administration this week announced it would rescind a directive issued July 6 that would have prohibited international students from staying in the U.S. if they were attending colleges and universities that offered only online instruction, the Associated Press reports. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the reversal at a hearing in a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenging the rule. U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said that the administration agreed to shelve the directive and “return to the status quo.”
The decision was welcome news to higher education leaders, who had voiced concern about the safety and wellbeing of their international students and called the rule “reckless.” More than 200 institutions, including Georgetown University, had signed onto court briefs supporting Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit. Georgetown also had signed on to a similar lawsuit filed by Johns Hopkins University and joined by 60 universities in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Ted Mitchell, the president of the American Council on Education, told Inside Higher Ed that ICE’s decision to walk back the directive “demonstrates the importance of international students to the United States and shows that together with one voice, all of higher education, the business community, and many others across our nation are making it clear that these students continue to be welcome here.”
“We are thankful for the news that the directive issued last week by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)—which would have imposed unnecessary barriers for our international students on F-1 educational visas—has been rescinded,” Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia said in a statement. “Our international students are integral members of our university community, and we will continue to advocate on their behalf whenever necessary.