Stanford to sue federal government over ‘unlawful’ ICE directive, offer 3 quarters housing to international students

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Stanford has joined 19 other colleges and universities in a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction on new “unwarranted and unlawful” ICE directive that would not allow international students to take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The University has also announced that all international undergraduate students will be eligible for campus housing during fall, winter and spring quarters, regardless of class year.

“We hope that we can quickly get a court ruling that will restore the flexibility that [the Department of Homeland Security] wisely gave to universities in March to deal with this pandemic by providing online instruction for international students as necessary to allow them to continue their education safely,” wrote Debra Zumwalt, Stanford vice president and general counsel in a press release on Monday evening.

Once international students arrive on campus, they will be allowed to enroll in three consecutive quarters. There are still no answers for those students who cannot reenter the country or obtain a visa due to COVID-related travel restrictions, though the University wrote that they would do their best to ensure that those students can continue their education remotely. 

The University added that it is also “developing plans to support international students” in the event that the courts rule against the lawsuits challenging the ICE directive, including another lawsuit filed on July 8 by Harvard and MIT arguing that the new measures cause “significant harm and turmoil. Stanford previously joined over 50 other universities in an amicus brief backing the suit, which will be heard on Tuesday by a federal judge in Boston. 

“Our goal is to provide housing to all international students who are able to enter the United States and who have applied for housing, and to provide the coursework needed so that students can continue making progress toward their degrees,” added Vice Provosts Stacey Bent, Susie Brubaker-Cole and Sarah Church in the joint email. 

The federal government now faces at least three lawsuits on the issue; the University of California school system also announced on July 8 that it was poised to sue over the new visa policy guidelines. 

Previously, Stanford’s reopening plan for the 2020-2021 academic year had no special exceptions explicitly for international students; students are invited back by class cohort, with frosh and sophomores on campus for the fall and summer quarters, and juniors and seniors on campus for the spring and winter. Students, barring those with special circumstances, are required to enroll in at least one quarter online, with remote learning as the default option with limited in-person instruction as is “safe and feasible.”

Contact Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Elena Shao '21 is from Suwanee, Georgia. At The Daily, she is a Managing Editor for News. Outside, she's studying political science. She also enjoys learning foreign languages and is hoping to pursue a career as an investigative and data journalist. Contact her at eshao98 'at' stanford.edu.