(KEYC) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Monday he has joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing a lawsuit to stop a new federal rule that blocks international students from studying in the U.S.
The lawsuit is being led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and was filed in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Under the updated rules, international students would be required to take at least some of their classes in person. New visas will not be issued to students at schools or programs that are entirely online, and even at colleges offering a mix of in-person and online courses this fall, international students will be barred from taking all their courses online.
Monday’s lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the entire rule from going into effect.
“Every community in Minnesota benefits from international students who make their home here, whether it’s for a year or two or a lifetime. The economic, social, and cultural value that International students bring to Minnesota has made us one of the most resilient economies in America and helps us all afford our lives. They deserve to live with the same dignity and respect that all Minnesotans do,” explained Ellison. “Instead, the President has once chosen to divide us instead of unite us. I did not hesitate for a second to join this lawsuit and will use the power of my office to protect Minnesotans of all backgrounds and keep this rule from taking effect.”
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which includes Minnesota State University, Mankato and South Central College, filed a declaration in Monday’s lawsuit.
In the declaration, Minnesota State Senior Vice Chancellor Ron Anderson states the 54 campuses in the system serves over 4,300 international students from around the world.
Anderson also wrote that the 54 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are taking action to minimize negative impacts of the updated rules for international students by reviewing the fall schedules of all international students to ensure they will allow international students to maintain their immigration status.
Colleges and universities in the system are also encouraging relevant faculty members to reach out to international students to listen to their concerns and share steps the colleges and universities are taking to minimize any negative impacts of the new rule.
Furthermore, Anderson writes that Minnesota State is “requiring its designated school officials to submit an update of their college or university operations plans to the Student Visitor Exchange Program by Aug. 1 if the college or university plans to adopt a hybrid or fully in-person course of study.”
All Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and also required to issue new Form I-20s to all F-1 and M-1 students, which certifies that the school is not operating fully online, the student is not taking an entirely online course load for the fall 2020 semester and the student is taking the minimum number of online classes to make normal progress in their degree program.
The lawsuit filed by Ellison and the declaration by Anderson both highlight the potential effects of ICE’s updated rules, including a failure to consider the health and well-being of students, staff and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic costs associated with students disenrolling from colleges and universities because they feel it is not yet safe to return to in-person classes and negatively impacts the institution’s student body, among other things.
With Ellison’s lawsuit Monday, he joins the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin in suing the Trump Administration.