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Penn will file an amicus brief to strengthen Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn is preparing an amicus curiae brief in support of the lawsuit filed on Wednesday by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against new federal restrictions that place over one million international students at risk of deportation.  

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement restrictions, which were released on Monday, mandate that nonimmigrant students under F-1 or M-1 visas must take at least one in-person class in order to stay in the U.S., and those registered for a fully online fall course load will be barred from entering or staying in the country.  

Penn will file the amicus brief ⁠— a legal document written by people who are not involved in the case but have strong interests and expertise in the subject matter — in support of Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, according to an email sent to The Daily Pennsylvanian from Associate Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Amy Gadsden on Wednesday afternoon.

Penn President Amy Gutmann officially announced the decision to file a brief in support of the lawsuit in an email to the Penn community on Thursday. She openly rebuked the new ICE guidelines and wrote that Penn Global has reached out to all international students and is prepared to support them in filling the necessary requirements to maintain a valid immigration status.

“The United States government should be a partner with colleges and universities across the country in supporting international students during this challenging time and we will work through the courts and with our elected officials to reverse this misguided decision,” Gutmann wrote.

Top universities across the nation are attempting to protect their international students from the regulations. 

On Wednesday, Cornell University, Princeton University, and Dartmouth College all formally announced plans to file an amicus curiae brief with the intent to strengthen the lawsuit by Harvard and MIT.

International Student and Scholar Services is working with Penn’s schools and departments, as well as its partners in the Ivy League and the U.S. government, to gain further clarification on the announcement, ISSS Director Rodolfo Altamirano wrote in an email to the DP on Monday. ISSS will provide information as soon as possible, he wrote. 

Gadsden wrote that “Penn is currently assessing which classes will be offered in-person during the fall 2020 semester and is prepared to support international students in fulfilling all of the necessary requirements to maintain valid immigration status.” 

Hours after ICE released its new regulations, Penn condemned the order. University spokesperson Stephen MacCarthy wrote to the DP that the U.S. government should be welcoming international students and working alongside the country’s universities amid the coronavirus pandemic, rather than “sowing chaos in the lives of committed and dedicated students.” 

At hybrid universities, like Penn, affected students are now scrambling to find in-person classes. As of fall 2019, international students accounted for about 21% of Penn’s graduate and undergraduate student population.

This article was last updated July 10 at 1:06 a.m.

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