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U. to file amicus brief supporting Harvard, MIT’s lawsuit against ICE amid new guidelines for international students

<h6>Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Jon Ort / The Daily Princetonian

The University will file an amicus brief in the lawsuit brought today by Harvard and MIT against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 wrote in an email to the campus community on Wednesday. 

Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit, announced early Wednesday morning, comes in response to ICE’s new guidelines, which forbid international students studying at U.S. universities from remaining in the country if they are enrolled in exclusively online courses. 

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The change in ICE guidelines came on Monday, the same day the University announced its fall reopening plans, welcoming only first-years, juniors, and other students meeting “stringent criteria” back to campus for in-person instruction in the fall. The University plans to conduct most classes remotely.

“Princeton stands firmly with our international students, who are crucial to the mission and quality of this University and, indeed, to the vitality and creativity of our country,” Eisgruber wrote to the University community. 

In addition to the amicus brief filing, the University will be “exploring other legal and policy options,” as well as “other University actions that might solve the problems created by ICE’s announcement,” the statement read. 

Eisgruber characterized the ICE policy changes as “disruptive and ill-defined,” as well as “cruel, opaque, and arbitrary,” stressing that they come at a time when “a public health crisis... has required Princeton and other universities to do much of their teaching remotely.”

“The announced changes are heartless, senseless, and damaging: they needlessly put international students at risk without serving any legitimate policy objective,” he wrote.

Eisgruber emphasized that in addition to his view that the policy is “misguided and unnecessary,” the way in which ICE unveiled it has raised its own problems.

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“The manner in which ICE announced its actions has been wholly irresponsible, adding to the anxiety of students and families already grappling with the realities of a global pandemic,” he wrote. “We will continue to communicate with our international students and our community as more information becomes available.”

Several international students who previously spoke with The Daily Princetonian expressed frustration and panic after ICE announced its decision. 

Masi Nagdee ’22, also interviewed in a ‘Prince’ video covering student reactions to the University reopening plan and the ICE announcement, described himself as in a “blind panic.”

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Sten Sjöberg ’21 added, “This sort of broadcast is really endemic of a problem in U.S. immigrations right now, which is that … this statement is so ambiguous. People have many good reasons to wonder what it means for them.”

The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) is hosting two open Zoom meetings on Sunday to discuss the new ICE guidelines.

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