Fifty-nine U.S. universities have filed a brief supporting a lawsuit by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over the Trump administration’s plan to strip international students of their visas if all their classes move online. In the original lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in a federal court in Boston, Harvard and MIT asked a judge to temporarily block the rule that would bar foreign students from remaining in the United States if their universities are not holding any in-person classes this fall. The so-called amicus brief – a supporting document submitted by interested parties – was filed on Sunday by 59 US universities, including seven other Ivy League schools. The universities said they relied on federal guidance, which was to remain “in effect for the duration of the emergency,” allowing international students to attend all-online courses during the pandemic, according to the amicus brief. “The emergency persists, yet the government’s policy has suddenly and drastically changed, throwing amici’s preparations into disarray and causing significant harm and turmoil,” they added. The Trump administration’s July 6 announcement blindsided academic institutions grappling with the challenges of safely resuming classes amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
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