Colorado joins suit over Trump administration’s new policy for international students

By: - July 13, 2020 4:59 pm

Outside the University Memorial Center at University of Colorado Boulder. (

In yet another multi-state lawsuit over the Donald Trump administration’s proposed policies, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined forces with 16 other states and the District of Columbia in an effort to stop new requirements for international students from taking effect.

A new rule announced July 6 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement requires that international students take at least some classes in person in order to receive visas that allow them to live and study within the United States. Students enrolled in all online classes for the fall semester could be deported unless they sign up for in-person classes at their current school or transfer to a different institution that offers such classes.

The rule could affect more than 11,000 people on student visas who were attending school in Colorado as of January, Weiser’s office said in a statement.

“The thousands of international students studying in Colorado have already had their lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought travel restrictions, quarantine requirements, and safety risks associated with both remaining in the U.S. and returning home,” Weiser, a Democrat, said in a statement. “… ICE’s message that the United States does not welcome foreign students is wrong, counterproductive, and illegal.”

President Donald Trump’s administration announced earlier this year that international students on U.S. visas would be able to enroll in more online credits than they’re normally permitted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The July 6 rule, however, mandates that not all classes can take place online. That’s an especially big problem for schools such as Harvard University that had already announced they wouldn’t be offering in-person instruction for the fall semester.

In their lawsuit — filed in U.S. District Court in Boston by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey — the coalition of state attorneys general says that in announcing the new rule, Immigration and Customs Enforcement “failed to consider the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the untold other residents of our States with whom they interact; it failed to consider the tremendous costs and burden this abrupt reversal would impose on our institutions of higher learning; and it failed to consider that, for many of our international students, remote learning in the countries and communities from which they come would impede their studies or be simply impossible.”

The University of Colorado Boulder is planning a hybrid model with some classes offered online and others in person. The school’s website provides guidance for international students with questions about new federal requirements. According to the guidance, students could theoretically take all online classes from outside the United States but would not be able to remain in the country for the fall semester.

CU Boulder serves more than 3,000 international students from 100 countries, according to its website.

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Faith Miller
Faith Miller

Reporter Faith Miller covers the Colorado Legislature, immigration and other stories for Colorado Newsline.