Harvard and MIT are now backed by Northeastern and other colleges from around the country to continue to push against the federal government’s effort to expel foreign students if their school is only offering online courses.

The colleges briefly started a hearing Thursday that will continue at more length 10 a.m. Friday in federal court in Boston.

Judge Allison Burroughs is weighing a suit filed Wednesday by Harvard University and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology that seeks to block a Trump administration policy that would move to eject international students who would be attending college classes entirely remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The schools’ action, filed Wednesday, seeks a 14-day restraining order and asks for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement directive to be vacated or set aside as “arbitrary and capricious.”

Northeastern University now is backing the suit, with its general counsel — and former Suffolk District Attorney — Ralph Martin saying, “We support the lawsuit because it affirms our values of inclusion, internationalism, and access.  Especially in these difficult times, we cannot relinquish these values.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which issued the new measures Monday, declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Other schools, including Cornell, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, University of Michigan and President Trump’s alma mater University of Pennsylvania have also signaled support for the suit.

In Western Massachusetts, Hampshire College President Ed Wingenbach went a step further, saying his private, liberal arts school has capacity to add students on campus and is “actively seeking to help international students at other colleges whose education is threatened” by housing them.

Various Democratic members of Congress, including Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Katherine Clark and Seth Moulton wrote a letter to the administration saying, “ICE’s announcement of their plans to force out or deport international students who remain at U.S. colleges and universities and who are taking a full online course load is cruel and unconscionable.”


Original story here.