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Tech giants back suit against Trump rule that may deport students

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and several other major tech companies oppose a new Trump administration rule that may send international students home if they don’t physically attend classes this fall.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), over rules that require in-person teaching for student visas. This means that international students who are enrolled in universities that are not holding in-person classes may be deported to their home countries.

The decision of the Trump administration to rescind the COVID-19 exemption to ICE’s in-person class requirements was described by Harvard and MIT as “arbitrary and capricious.” Nearly 60 universities have expressed their support for the lawsuit, according to Bloomberg, and tech companies are now joining the fight.

In a court brief, 13 tech companies and six associations filed their arguments against the rule, claiming that international students make meaningful contributions to the economy, both as residents and eventually as part of the workforce, and help maintain the excellence of colleges and universities.

In addition to Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, the other tech companies involved in the brief are Adobe Systems, Boston Consulting Group, Box, Dropbox, GitHub, LinkedIn, PayPal, SalesForce, Spotify, and Twitter. They are joined by the United States Chamber of Commerce, BSA, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Internet Association, the Society for Human Resource Management, and TechNet.

The brief cited a study that claimed “more than half of the international students studying  in the United States — over 575,000 people — could have their education interrupted, and might be unable to complete their degrees.”

“Dropbox wouldn’t exist without immigrants. The students impacted by the Administration’s order make significant contributions to our society and the effect of the order will hurt U.S. competitiveness. We’ll keep fighting for immigration reform because it makes our country stronger and more diverse,” a spokesperson for Dropbox said in a statement to Digital Trends.

Microsoft President Brad Smith also tweeted his thoughts on the matter.

COVID-19 has thrown universities and students into a state of uncertainty. We need to give all students – including those who’ve come to the US from abroad to learn – flexibility during this pandemic. That’s why we signed today’s amicus brief.

— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) July 13, 2020

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