California is suing US President Donald Trump's administration over its policy threatening the visas of foreign students whose courses move online due to coronavirus, officials said Thursday.
The lawsuit to be filed by the state's attorney general comes as Trump pushes for the country's education facilities to reopen even as virus infections continue to spike, particularly in the south and west.
"The Trump Administration's unlawful policy… threatens to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19 and exile hundreds of thousands of college students studying in the United States," said a statement announcing the suit.
On Monday, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said foreign students enrolled in fully online programs for the fall semester would not be allowed to enter the country.
The measure was seen as a move by the White House to put pressure on educational institutions that are adopting a cautious approach to reopening amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
But California State University — a plaintiff in the suit — is among those planning to offer mostly online-only education to their more than 10,000 foreign students, as well as US students, this fall.
"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," said Attorney General Becerra.
Forcing Californian universities and colleges to open in-person classes would threaten their finances and could turn them into "super-spreaders" of the disease, Becerra said.
The federal prosecutor for heavily Democratic California — who has filed dozens of lawsuits over the Republican president's policies — added: "We'll see the Trump Administration in court."
Harvard University, which also plans online-only classes next year, filed a separate lawsuit against the policy on Wednesday, along with MIT.