180 colleges joined a lawsuit.
81 higher-ed associations signed a letter in protest.
Nearly half of the members of Congress called on the Department of Homeland Security to backtrack.
A new Trump administration policy
that would bar international students from coming to or remaining in the U.S. if their classes were all online has drawn widespread condemnation. And it has galvanized support for international students in a way that is, frankly, rare to see — even a coalition of campus student ministries expressed disapproval
of the policy as going against “tenets of our faith to not mistreat the foreigner but to love these neighbors as ourselves.” Not since the travel ban in the first days of the Trump administration have I seen such broad consensus on an issue facing international students, both within higher ed and beyond it.
In Forbes, Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, wrote
“By compelling universities and others to imagine an America with no or few international students, administration officials have created sympathy for the students and generated renewed reflection about universities and America’s place in the world.”
Of course, in this era of polarization, can such goodwill be sustained? I recognize, too, that glass-half-full sentiments are of limited comfort to the many of you who have been working around the clock to reassure anxious students, reissue thousands of I-20s, and overhaul class schedules to ensure compliance with a policy — dubbed the #studentban — that landed out of the blue.
This past week has been a whirlwind of developments. You can read my in-depth coverage
in the Chronicle. I’ll be posting up-to-the-minute news on social media
, so look there for the latest. Meanwhile, let me flag a few things to watch going forward:
Legal challenges to the policy are moving fast, but uncertainty will remain. A federal judge in Boston said on Friday that she would fast-track a lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT to stop the policy. A hearing has been set for Tuesday afternoon, with a ruling as early as Wednesday. The rush is necessary because Wednesday is also the deadline for colleges that plan to be online-only to submit updated paperwork to the government.
There is reason to be hopeful that the colleges could get an injunction temporarily halting the policy. “My gut on it is that the big-ticket item here is going to be a likelihood of success on the merits,” Judge Allison D. Burroughs said Friday.
The argument that colleges are making — that the administration didn’t adequately consider the impact of the policy and that it failed to follow proper rulemaking processes — is one that has succeeded in halting other Trump administration actions
, most notably DACA.
I laid out the legal arguments
a few weeks ago. My focus then was on optional practical training, but they are equally relevant here.
It’s not clear, however, if a ruling would be applied nationwide, or just to MIT, Harvard, and other nearby colleges. Universities in other regions of the country are filing separate lawsuits, and at least two state attorneys general, in California and Washington, are also suing. And it seems like the Trump administration has an appetite for a fight, both in the courts and out. The government could appeal an injunction. Just a short time after the hearing, President Trump took to Twitter: