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Harvard, MIT sue Trump administration over revoking foreign student visas

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Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration on Wednesday, seeking to block a new rule that would bar foreign students from remaining in the United States if their universities move all courses online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two universities filed a lawsuit in federal court in Boston asking for an emergency temporary restraining order on the new directive issued by the government on Monday.

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“We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students – and international students at institutions across the country – can continue their studies without the threat of deportation,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow wrote in a statement addressed to the Harvard community.

The lawsuit, filed by two of the most elite U.S. universities, is the first to challenge the order that could force tens of thousands of foreign students to leave the country if their schools switch fully to remote learning.

Harvard had announced it would hold all classes online in the coming fall term. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement the state was also planning to sue over the rule, which she called “cruel” and “illegal.”

Her office said it was still working out the details of any potential legal action but that it had been in touch with Harvard and other major colleges and universities in the state to “support their efforts to protect students.”

The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing schools across the country to re-open in the fall. The Trump administration announcement blindsided academic institutions grappling with the logistical challenges of safely resuming classes as the coronavirus pandemic continues unabated around the world, and surges in the United States, especially among young people.

There are more than a million foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities, and many schools depend on revenue from foreign students, who often pay full tuition.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency rule said most students on F-1 and M-1 visas could stay if their programs were in person or offered a mix of online and in-person instruction.

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The announcement left students, professors, and universities scrambling to figure out exactly who would be affected by the rule and how those affected could comply without having to leave the country. On Twitter, professors across the country offered to teach outdoor in-person independent study courses for affected students.

The ICE policy change marked an unexpected reversal of exceptions to the rules limiting online learning for foreign students when colleges and universities in March rushed to shutter campuses and move to virtual classes as the pandemic forced lockdowns.

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ICE “proceeded without any indication of having considered the health of students, faculty, university staff, or communities,” the complaint said.

The suit alleges the government skirted the proper rule-making process and is asking the court to strike it down.

Judge Allison Burroughs, appointed by former President Barack Obama, is assigned to hear the case. In 2017, she ordered a halt to Trump’s travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, a policy that was eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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(REUTERS)


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2020 Election

This state was always key to Democrats’ 2020 ambitions: Less than 3 months from Election Day, their confidence is growing

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Over a year ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee opened an office in Austin, convinced that Texas would be central to building on the party's House majority in 2020.

Democrats think it turned out to be a pretty good bet.

With less than 100 days until the November election, they are increasingly optimistic about most of their pickup opportunities in Texas, where the DCCC is targeting seven seats. They have named five candidates across those races to their Red to Blue program for strong challengers, and they are even exploring additional pickup possibilities, recently polling in at least two districts that are not on their current target list.

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COVID-19

The only Texas prison reporting zero coronavirus cases is where inmates make soap. But that’s not what’s credited with protecting it.

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Of more than 100 Texas prison units, the Roach Unit's apparent ability to avoid the virus has been attributed to a remote location and a warden who strictly enforces precautionary measures.

The only Texas prison that hasn’t had any staff or inmates test positive for the new coronavirus is the same one where inmates make soap and package hand sanitizer for the state’s lockups. Prisoners aren’t allowed to use the latter.

How this one unit seemingly remains untouched by a virus that has ravaged the state’s prison system, however, has been credited not to its soap factory, but to the prison’s location and the warden’s strict enforcement of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s coronavirus policy. Meanwhile, those inside prisons with hundreds of infected inmates have long reported dangerous practices. In lawsuits and letters, they have described officers without face masks, forced intermingling between infected and healthy prisoners, and limits to soap and cleaning supplies.

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BLM protesters face life in prison for vandalism after prosecutors label them a ‘street gang’

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A group of Black Lives Matter protesters in Utah are facing potential life in prison for smashing windows and splashing red paint on the street.

CBS News reports that Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill this week added a "gang enhancement" penalty against BLM demonstrators who allegedly committed acts of vandalism, which increases maximum sentences for "offenses committed in concert with two or more person or in relation to a criminal street gang."

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