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Harvard, MIT Sue Trump Administration Over New ICE Rules On Foreign Student Visas

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Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over new student visa guidelines.

The lawsuit, filed in a district court in Boston, seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent ICE from enforcing its new guidelines, BBC News reported. The court filing also alleges that the new rules “threw Harvard and MIT— indeed, virtually all of higher education in the United States—into chaos.”

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program, operated by ICE, released new guidelines Monday which state that foreign students currently in the U.S. on an F-1 or M-1 visa must either depart the country if they wish to take a full term of online classes or transfer to a school offering in-person classes.

The rule change allows foreign students to remain in the U.S. if their school offers a mix of online and in-person classes, but students may only take up to three credit hours of online classes. The guidelines were announced hours after Harvard announced it would hold all of its classes online for the fall semester, according to the Harvard Crimson.

Harvard President Lawrence Bacow, in statement posted on the university’s website Wednesday, sharply criticized the new ruling, stating its “cruelty [is] surpassed only by its recklessness.” (RELATED: Harvard Student Government Votes To Condemn School Paper For Reaching Out To ICE For Comment)

MIT President L. Rafael Reif, in a similar statement released Wednesday, criticized ICE and added that the rule change disrupts “international students’ lives and jeopardizes their academic and research pursuits.”

President Donald Trump railed against Harvard for its decision to shift classes online during a White House panel discussion Tuesday. “I think it’s ridiculous, I think it’s an easy way out and I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, if you want to know the truth,” he said.

The White House met with public health and education experts to determine if schools and colleges are ready to open in the fall and safely hold in-person classes. The president said he supported efforts to re-open schools.