University of Chicago

University of Chicago's main quadrangle

On July 12, the University of Chicago joined more than 50 colleges and universities in filing a brief opposed to the July 6 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive that placed restrictions on nonimmigrant students with F-1 visas.

Describing students as "core members of our institutions (who) make valuable contributions to our classrooms, campuses, and communities," the Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-11283 lists the plaintiffs as "President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology" while naming the defendants as "ICE and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)."

The July 6 ICE Directive applied to participants in the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a "part of the National Security Investigations Division and (that) acts as a bridge for government organizations that have an interest in information on nonimmigrants whose primary reason for coming to the United States is to be students" according to the ICE website.

The University of Chicago, along with 58 additional institutions, was listed among the amici curiae in the civil action. The function of the amici curiae is to "inform and advise the judge as to matters of fact or law that might otherwise escape consideration so as to minimize the risk of error in judgment," according to the Law Times News.

In an email sent to media outlets on July 13, a representative from the University of Chicago stated that the ICE directive "jeopardizes the ability of our international students on F-1 visas to remain in the United States while taking classes remotely."

The arguments described in the brief included that of a DePaul University student returning from South Korea who was prevented from entering the country on July 8 because he "had not yet registered for classes—and thus could not establish that at least some of his coursework would be in-person, as required by the July 6 Directive."

Although ICE announced three "temporary exemptions" that would allow F-1 visa holders to take full online course loads while remaining in the United States in a July 6 news release, the lawsuit still moved forward

In a hearing yesterday, U.S. District Judge Allison D. Burroughs said that ICE and DHS “have agreed to rescind the July 6, 2020 policy directive” on international students with F-1 visas.

Afterwards, Harvard President Lawrence Summers described the decision as a "significant victory" in a letter to "Members of the Harvard Community" published July 14 on the school’s website. 

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