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California Files Legal Challenge To Trump Policy On International Students

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California attorney general Xavier Becerra announced a joint lawsuit with California's public universities challenging visa restrictions on international students. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: The UC Sytem followed through on Friday night by filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the international students policy.

Also, attorneys for seven international university students studying in Orange and Los Angeles counties have sued the Trump administration, alleging that new rules on foreign student visas makes them "pawns in a political drama."

The federal civil complaint, filed Friday in Orange County, seeks a court order preventing the government from enforcing the policy that would strip foreign students of their U.S. visas if their fall classes are held solely online.

The plaintiffs — identified by their initials only — are Chinese nationals studying at UC Irvine School of Law and UCLA, and a German national attending the USC Gould School of Law.

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ORIGINAL STORY: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and leaders of the state's public universities announced today that they will sue the Trump administration over a new policy requiring international students to take at least some of their classes in person this fall or risk having their visas revoked.

Becerra and the California Community Colleges and California State University systems say they'll file a joint lawsuit challenging the "unlawful policy that threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program."

“The California State University stands in the strongest opposition to the policy guidance issued Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement. “It is a callous and inflexible policy that unfairly disrupts our more-than 10,300 international students’ progress to a degree, unnecessarily placing them in an extremely difficult position."

White had previously announced that the 23-campus system will conduct almost all of its classes online for the fall 2020 semester. According to the ICE policy, the State Department "will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States."

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California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said the policy will effect 21,000 international students across the system's 115 campuses.

On Wednesday, the University of Calfornia announced plans to file its own lawsuit against the Trump administration over the visa policy. A university spokesman said Thursday that the lawsuit will be filed some time next week.

Other schools are forming strategies outside of the courts to push back against the ICE policy. On Thursday, USC notified its more than 12,000 international students that they can sign up for an in-person class at no additonal cost to maintain their visa status.

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