Wisconsin Attorney General joins lawsuit against ICE for international student policy

Kaul says UW-Green Bay has 80 enrolled students with F-1 visas.
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 12:45 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has joined a lawsuit to stop a new federal rule that could bar thousands of international students from studying in the United States.

Eighteen attorneys general are part of the lawsuit filed against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, is challenging the “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”

On July 6, ICE announced that international students can no longer live in the United States if they take online-only classes.

“This unlawful policy pressures colleges and universities to provide in-person instruction regardless of whether it’s safe to do so and threatens to cause further harm to our economy,” said Attorney General Kaul. “While it’s been clear for months that we can’t count on the Trump administration to effectively lead the fight against the pandemic, the administration at least shouldn’t interfere with the hard work that others are doing to slow the transmission of the coronavirus and protect public health.”

Kaul says UW-Green Bay has 80 enrolled students with F-1 visas. Those students contributed about $1.4 million to tuition and fees each year.

“Green Bay could lose up to $831,100 if its 32 newly admitted students who require F-1 visas are not admitted to the county. The rule may also severely disrupt Green Bay’s Division 1 athletics, particularly in Men’s soccer,” reads a statement from the attorney general’s office.

UW System President Tommy Thompson says he supports the attorney general’s decision to be part of the lawsuit.

“International students are welcomed here at the UW System. We fully support the Attorney General’s action today joining the lawsuit challenging the ICE rules regarding international students. While we provided background for the lawsuit, our belief is that our universities’ planned hybrid model of teaching delivery during the fall 2020 semester ensures our compliance with the rules if they are upheld,” says Thompson.

Action 2 News spoke with an international student who attends Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. Sylvester Ndifor came to the United States nearly four years ago from Cameroon in Central Africa.

“We feel like we are not valued, because if we have a pandemic of such nature plaguing our society, and we are being technically forced to school in-person, which we are not practicing social distancing by doing that, then that makes us liable to getting the coronavirus,” said Ndifor. “That is not helpful in any way to the current situation.”

NWTC President Dr. Jeff Rafn says, “NWTC is planning to offer in-person and blended programs this fall which means that according to the new rules, international students enrolled at NWTC would be able to stay in the United States to complete their program of study. The college recognizes that the delivery method is subject to change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We would work with international students at that time with respect to their courses and ability to stay in the US. NWTC greatly values international students who are an integral part of the diverse culture of the United States, including the Northeast Wisconsin community. We are here to support our students and ensure their success.”

CLICK HERE to read the full document filed by the attorneys general.

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