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Google, Facebook, Microsoft join 17 US states to sue Trump admin over new policy for foreign students

Over a dozen American technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, on Monday joined a lawsuit filed by the Harvard University and MIT against ICE’s latest rule that bars international students from staying in the US unless they attend at least one in-person course.

They were also joined by at least 17 states in the US including New Jersey, Colorado among others and the District of Columbia, in filing another lawsuit against this new temporary visa policy for international students announced by the Trump administration as part of its efforts to restrict international travel in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

Seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, these companies, along with the US Chamber of Commerce and other IT advocacy groups, asserted that the July 6 ICE directive will disrupt their recruiting plans, making it impossible to bring on board international students that businesses, including amici, had planned to hire, and disturb the recruiting process on which the firms have relied on to identify and train their future employees.

The July 6 directive will make it impossible for a large number of international students to participate in the CPT and OPT programmes.

The US will “nonsensically be sending these graduates away to work for our global competitors and compete against us instead of capitalising on the investment in their education here in the US”, they said.

Closing off more than half of all international students from participating in the recruiting pipeline for American businesses will thus harm companies and the entire economy, and disrupt reliance expectations based on prior policies permitting international students to remain in the US, the firms said.

“International students are an important source of employees for US businesses while they are students and after they graduate.

Finally, they become valuable employees and customers of US businesses whether they remain in the United States or return to their home countries,” the companies said.

According to the IT companies, international students residing in the US make a substantial contribution to the country’s GDP and have a particularly significant impact in towns and cities where colleges and universities are located.

Meawhile, the states that have also joined this fight are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In their lawsuit filed their lawsuit in the US District Court in Massachusetts against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and challenges what the 18 attorneys general call the federal government’s “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States”.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing the lawsuit, in a statement alleged that the Trump administration did not even attempt to explain the basis for this “senseless” rule, which forces schools to choose between keeping their international students enrolled and protecting the health and safety of their campuses.

Massachusetts hosts tens of thousands of international students each year — there are currently 77,000 with active student visas — and they are estimated to bring more than USD 3.2 billion to the economy each year.

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