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Yesterday, the Trump Administration reversed the ICE immigration restriction on international students taking online classes. Ava DeSantis writes on the victory for international students and how Administration may attack their status again.

At the beginning of the hearing for a suit brought by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Tuesday, the US District Court Judge presiding announced that the Trump Administration had reversed the ICE policy the suit challenged; the case was moot. An attorney for US Immigration and Customs Authority confirmed that the policy had been rescinded, prompting a “return to the status quo.”

Prior to the reversal, more than 200 colleges and universities signed briefs and hundreds of international students spoke out against the order, which required F-1/M-1 visa students to take at least one in-person class, or leave the country.

Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow wrote in an email to students on Tuesday, “this is a significant victory. The directive had disrupted all of American higher education. I have heard from countless international students who said that the July 6 directive had put them at serious risk. These students – our students – can now rest easier and focus on their education, which is all they ever wanted to do.”

“ICE is rescinding its rule that threatens to deport international students, a day after we filed our lawsuit,” said Maura Healey, the Massachusetts Attorney General, on twitter. “This is why we sue. The rule was illegal and the Trump Administration knew they didn’t have a chance. They may try this again. We will be ready.”

The attorney general may be right to assume further litigation on this issue. A White House insider told CNN the Administration saw the blowback on this policy, causing its reversal. The Administration is now considering a policy to exclude only new international students, instead of new students, returning students, and international students currently in the US. Now, however, the Administration will return to a policy that allows international students flexibility in their class registration, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This result,” explained Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, “is about the transformational power of our collective action and the swift, visible outrage of many – including presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities from across the country. The fight is not yet over.”

Ava DeSantis

Ava DeSantis is Gen Z Voice at The Pavlovic Today. She has a background in political science and history at George Washington University.