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FSU, FAMU Relieved After Trump Administration Reverses ICE Rule

University provosts and academic deans around Florida are relieved that a federal judge announced this week that the Trump administration had rescinded its order prohibiting international college students from staying in the country if their universities offered online-only courses.

Judge Allison Burroughs, a federal district judge in Boston, made the announcement Tuesday, during a session to hear oral arguments in a lawsuit that was filed last week by Harvard and MIT seeking the reversal.

Burroughs explained that the universities’ request for a preliminary injunction blocking the rule was a moot point, because the government had already agreed to rescind the policy.

“The Government has agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020” policy, the clerk’s notes from Tuesday’s session state.

The original guideline, which was issued last Monday by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, determined that international students attending institutions that teach partly online must be enrolled in a least one face-to-face or hybrid class, in order to justify their continued presence in the country.

The Harvard-MIT suit was supported by more than 200 universities across the country, including Florida State and Florida A&M universities.

Last Monday, nearly 200 FSU professors endorsed a letter to President John Thrasher, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Sally McRorie and the school’s Board of Governors, requesting that FSU to file its own legal action.

“FSU spent huge energy this week working to protect our community from this xenophobia,” said Will Hanley, an associate professor of history at FSU who signed the faculty letter. “It was the court challenges of our peer institutions that defeated the policy, however. I hope that next time, we join them.”

Across Tallahassee, FAMU Provost Maurice Edington also had scheduled a town hall to address the issue.

“This is great news for our international students,” said William T. Hyndman III, assistant vice president for International Education and Development, at FAMU. “Nationally there are over one million international students in the U.S. and they contribute over $41 billion to the U.S. economy. We are very happy that this rule has been rescinded.”

The rescinded directive comes as universities nationwide are making their plans for fall instruction in the midst of the pandemic.

The letter from nearly 200 FSU faculty read:

“On July 6, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a directive denying foreign students enrolled in entirely online programs permission to remain in or enter the United States. These tenured faculty at FSU ask the University to take legal action to prohibit enforcement of the directive.”

United Faculty of Florida/FSU Chapter and the Graduate Assistants United/FSU Chapter, also have sent a letter to FSU’s administration.

The joint statement called the federal policy “reckless, guileless, and careless.”

“It will endanger the physical safety and well-being of not only our international students but also our domestic students if classes are required to be in-person this fall,” the statement reads. “If this policy is left unchallenged, many of our international students will be forced to discontinue their education at FSU.”