By Ted Hesson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – International students have already been denied entry to the United States under new Trump administration rules that bar them from the country if their schools hold all classes online amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a court document filed on Sunday.
The “friend of the court” brief, written by dozens of universities and colleges, was filed in support of a lawsuit brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) seeking to block immigration rules issued on July 6 that blindsided academic institutions across the country.
The brief said U.S. immigration authorities were “already preventing returning students from re-entering the country” and cited the case of a DePaul University student returning from South Korea who was denied at San Francisco International Airport.
DePaul declined to make the student available for an interview. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman did not comment about students being denied entry under the new rules.
The brief was just one of a flurry of filings in support of the lawsuit from major business associations, labour unions and tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter. They were joined by more than two dozen cities, towns and counties that decried the rule.
There are more than a million foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities, and many schools depend on revenue from foreign students, who often pay full tuition.
On Monday, the state of Massachusetts led a coalition of 16 other states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit that called the new rules “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful.”
The state of New York also filed a suit against the visa rules on Monday, following lawsuits by the state of California and others in recent days.
A federal judge in Boston is scheduled to hear arguments on Tuesday over a motion seeking to temporarily block the rule.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke and Mimi Dwyer in Los Angeles and Radhika Anilkumar and Shubham Khalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Mica Rosenberg and Steve Orlofsky)