University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name State of Washington v. United States Department of Homeland Security IM-WA-0045
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-01070 ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Education
Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit brought by the state of Washington 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. On July 15, in a different lawsuit filed against the ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit brought by the state of Washington 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. On July 15, 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over the same July directive, plaintiffs met with counsel for the government and worked to get the regulations rescinded.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 which exempted students from the limitation on online learning credits in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. On October 6, the court granted the parties stipulated request for a dismissal.


Background
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.

The Lawsuit
This lawsuit was filed on July 10, 2020, four days after the directive was issued. The State of Washington was the plaintiff. Defendants were the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Washington claimed that the new directive violated the Administrative Procedure Act in six ways: 1) the directive was arbitrary and capricious in that it set up implausible deadlines for institutions to decide whether to be fully online or not; 2) the directive was arbitrary and capricious in that it reversed a prior policy without detailing any change in facts; 3) the directive was arbitrary and capricious in that the defendants entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem; 4) the directive was arbitrary and capricious in that defendants did not offer any cogent explanation for the change in policy; and 5) defendants did not engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking when issuing the new policy. Finally, Washington also argued that the directive violated the APA because it was issued in excess of ICE's statutory authority and encroached on the state's ability to exercise police powers regarding public health. The plaintiff sought injunctive relief in the form of a temporary restraining order as well as preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting the agencies from enforcing the new directive. Plaintiffs also requested that the court vacate and set aside the new directive, in addition to attorney's fees and costs.

The case was assigned to Judge Ricardo S. Martinez.

On July 13, the plaintiff requested an emergency temporary restraining order, asking that the court enjoin the defendants from enforcing the directives for at least two weeks.

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 16, the parties filed a joint stipulation stating that the defendants' rescission of the directive mooted the plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order and that the parties agreed to withdraw the motion without prejudice.

On October 6, 2020, the court granted the parties' stipulated request for a dismissal.

Jack Hibbard - 07/13/2020
Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/29/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Immigration/Border
Admission - criteria
Admission - procedure
Deportation - criteria
Deportation - procedure
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Plaintiff Description State of Washington
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 07/10/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing IM-CA-0166 : Z.W. v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (C.D. Cal.)
IM-MA-0020 : President and Fellows of Harvard College v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D. Mass.)
IM-CA-0165 : The Regents of the University of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (N.D. Cal.)
IM-DC-0081 : Johns Hopkins University v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D.D.C.)
IM-CA-0167 : State of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (N.D. Cal.)
IM-MA-0021 : Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security (D. Mass.)
IM-OR-0011 : University of Oregon v. United States Department of Homeland Security (D. Or.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
W.D. Wash.
10/06/2020
2:20-cv-01070
IM-WA-0045-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
W.D. Wash.
07/10/2020
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-WA-0045-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
07/13/2020
Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 3 & 3-1]
IM-WA-0045-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
W.D. Wash.
07/13/2020
[Declarations Cited in Support of State of Washington's Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order] [ECF# 4-1]
IM-WA-0045-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Martinez, Ricardo S. (W.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Beneski, Kristin (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-0001 | IM-WA-0045-0002 | IM-WA-0045-9000
Coates, Spencer W (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-0001 | IM-WA-0045-0002 | IM-WA-0045-0003 | IM-WA-0045-9000
Ferguson, Robert W. (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-0001 | IM-WA-0045-0002
Fraas, Lauryn K (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-0001 | IM-WA-0045-0002 | IM-WA-0045-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Johnson, Kristin Berger (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-9000
Other Lawyers Chang, Robert S. (Washington) show/hide docs
IM-WA-0045-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -