WI suing over rule that international students can't stay in U.S. if taking online classes


MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has announced the filing of a lawsuit to stop a new federal rule that tells international students they must return to their native countries if they are taking online classes.

Eighteen states are involved in the lawsuit filed in Massachusetts Monday against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The attorneys general call the new federal rule a “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”

In a press release, Attorney General Kaul said the policy “pressures colleges and universities to provide in-person instruction regardless of whether it’s safe to do so and threatens to cause further harm to our economy.”

The lawsuit also included 39 declarations from institutions affected by the new rule, including University of Wisconsin – Madison, Milwaukee, Stevens Point, and Stout.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice, each of those schools receive millions of dollars from international students.

“UW-Milwaukee could lose up to half of the approximately 1,200 international students, who pay approximately $21.5 million in tuition, and $5.1 million in housing, in addition to the money these students spend at businesses supporting the local economy,” the Wisconsin Department of Justice said in the press release.

Last year, international students at UW-Madison paid about $161.8 million in tuition and fees, along with $18.8 million in housing.

UW System President Tommy Thompson released the following statement about the lawsuit:

International students are welcomed here at the UW System. We fully support the Attorney General’s action today joining the lawsuit challenging the ICE rules regarding international students. While we provided background for the lawsuit, our belief is that our universities’ planned hybrid model of teaching delivery during the fall 2020 semester ensures our compliance with the rules if they are upheld.

UW System Regent President Andrew S. Petersen also released a statement:

The value of international students to our universities extends beyond the financial and research support they provide Wisconsin. Their presence on UW System universities contributes to the learning opportunities and cultural enrichment provided to all of our students.