Harvard Strikes Back. The most prestigious university in the United States has sued the Immigration Department for its decision to withdraw visas from all students who take most classes online. By the time the announcement came, Harvard University, like many others, had already planned its classes for the next course entirely online, fearing a spike in Covid 19.
This is an “arbitrary and capricious” measure, the educational institution says in the legal complaint filed in a Massachusetts court, because the government had already affected in March that the classes were virtual while the emergency lasted. With the more than three million cases reached yesterday – almost double that of Brazil, the next on the world list – there is no doubt that the emergency persists. So the decision of the immigration agency “is an abuse of its discretion that endangers public health,” protests the university.
By suddenly announcing it on Monday afternoon, the federal government “has thrown virtually all of America’s higher education into chaos.” More than a million students have been affected, including 7,200 Spaniards, who will not be able to re-enter the United States if the courts do nothing to freeze the decision. Universities have been asked to submit a whole new operational plan by next Wednesday and to issue new certificates for F-1 immigration visas by August 24 to all students who can meet a hybrid model of education in that there is a majority of face-to-face classes.
Harvard claims that the issuance of new guidelines has been carried out “without any prior indication or consideration for the health of students, faculty, university staff or the communities around them,” the lawsuit says. “Migration actions leave thousands of international students without any educational option within the United States” and, due to the proximity with the beginning of the course, they are left mostly “without the possibility of transferring (enrollment) to other universities” that provide the classroom education now required by the immigration agency. “For many students, returning to their home countries to participate in online courses is impossible, preventatively impracticable, expensive and / or dangerous.” The latter will be the case of many Venezuelans, Saudis and citizens of other countries who are experiencing political turmoil.
Everything indicates that the immigration decision reflects an effort by the federal government to force a return to normality, as it did yesterday with the schools of basic education. After a furious tweet from Trump complaining that “Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and many other countries HAVE REOPENED THE SCHOOLS WITHOUT PROBLEMS”, Vice President Mike Pence yesterday threatened to withdraw federal funds from schools that choose distance education according to directions from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), with which the president disagrees. “I’m going to meet them!” He bellowed on Twitter.