California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and top education leaders in the state announced Thursday that California was suing the Trump administration in an attempt to stop a directive that would force international students to leave the country should their schools conduct classes exclusively online.
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that students on F-1 and M-1 visas would either need to leave the country or transfer to a school where in-person classes were taking place or else face deportation.
"Shame on the Trump Administration for risking not only the education opportunities for students who earned the chance to go to college, but now their health and well-being as well," Becerra said in a press release. "Today, President Trump appears set to do just that — amidst a global pandemic of historic proportions. Not on our watch."
Becerra was joined in the lawsuit by the chancellors of both the state's university and community college systems.
California is the first state to file a lawsuit against the directive. Harvard and MIT filed lawsuits against the administration earlier this week.
NBC News reports that there were more than 40,000 international undergraduate and graduate students during the 2019 fall semester.
According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, international students contributed $41 billion to the U.S. GDP during the 2018-19 school year.