Filed Date: July 9, 2020
Closed Date: Oct. 19, 2020
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COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit brought by the State of California regarding the July 2020 release of ICE regulations which, in effect, meant that students on F-1 visas would risk deportation if their school shifted to online learning. In a different lawsuit filed against the administration over the same July directive, plaintiffs met with counsel for the government and worked to get the regulations rescinded. In order to effectuate the rescission, ICE removed the guidance from its website and replaced it with the previous guidance and as a result, plaintiffs withdrew their motion for a preliminary injunction. California continued to monitor the alterations ICE made to its website between July and September and filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on October 19, 2020.
Generally speaking, F-1 visas (colloquially "student visas") can be granted to international students who attend American universities. However, regulations on the granting of these visas limit the amount of online or distance learning the student can engage in. According to these regulations, an international student can engage in only one such class or three credits of that class per semester. 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(6)(i)(G).
The COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020 made this regulation untenable, as schools and universities had to shift to online learning systems. In response, defendant ICE issued an exemption on March 13, 2020, affirming that international students would be permitted to continue distance learning in the United States under their F-1 visas. The exemption would apply until the end of the emergency. However, on July 6, 2020, ICE issued a new directive stating that it would rescind that exemption. This directive would then mean that international students at schools that would still be fully online would have to either transfer to other schools that were at least partially in-person, go back to their countries voluntarily, or risk deportation. The directive also ordered schools that had gone fully online or had simply decided not to have classes to submit an "operational change plan" within nine days, and ordered schools that would have a hybrid system to certify each F-1 student to make sure that they were not taking entirely online courses.
On July 9, three days after the directive was issued, the State of California filed this lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint alleged two violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). First, it argued that the directive was arbitrary and capricious because: 1) the defendants gave no explanation for the sudden shift in policy; 2) defendants relied on factors Congress did not intend for them to rely on in making the shift; 3) defendants failed to consider the reliance interests of students and universities after they had issued the original exemption; and 4) defendants failed to provide any cogent explanation for the shift in policy. Second, the state alleged that defendants did not go through proper notice-and-comment rulemaking processes when they issued the new directive.
The State of California sought declaratory relief that would call the new directive illegal, an order setting aside the July directive, and injunctive relief that would force defendants to reinforce the original March 13 exemption.
California declined to have a magistrate judge conduct the proceedings. The next day, July 10, the case was assigned to Judge Jon S. Tigar.
On July 13, California submitted a motion requesting a preliminary injunction. The proposed injunction would prohibit the government from acting on the new directive.
Also on July 13, Regents of the University of California filed a motion to relate the case to the case they had filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California three days prior. Judge Tigar found that the cases are related and reassigned the suit by University of California (which was filed after this suit by the state of California) to himself on July 14.
Meanwhile, in a different lawsuit filed against the administration over the same directive, President and Fellows of Harvard College, the parties conferred and the defendants agreed to rescind their implementation of the directive and to return to the March policy.
On July 14, the parties filed a joint stipulation that stated that because the government agreed to rescind the July directive by removing it from its website and replacing it with the March guidance, California's claims were therefore mooted, and the state agreed to withdraw its motion for a preliminary injunction.
Over the next two months, the plaintiffs continued to monitor the changes ICE made to its website in order to fully effectuate the rescission and submitted status reports to the court.
On October 13, 2020 the government filed a motion to dismiss and on October 19, California filed a notice of voluntary dismissal.
Jack Hibbard (7/14/2020)
Chandler Hart-McGonigle (11/29/2020)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17337766/parties/state-of-california-v-us-department-of-homeland-security/
Alcaraz, Domonique Celeste (California)
Becerra, Xavier (California)
Chun, A. Marisa (California)
Anderson, David Lloyd (California)
Chun, Marisa A (California)
Tigar, Jon Steven (California)
Last updated June 30, 2023, 3:21 a.m.
State / Territory: California
Filing Date: July 9, 2020
Closing Date: Oct. 19, 2020
Case Ongoing: No
State of California
Public Interest Lawyer: No
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Defendant
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Content of Injunction: