University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Johns Hopkins University v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security IM-DC-0081
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-01873 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
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 Johns Hopkins University 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 ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a lawsuit brought by Johns Hopkins University 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over the same July directive, plaintiffs met with counsel for the government and worked to get the regulations rescinded.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 which exempted students from the limitation on online learning credits in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Johns Hopkins later voluntarily dismissed the university's claims.


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
In response to the new directive, Johns Hopkins University filed this lawsuit on July 10, 2020, represented by private counsel. The University sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Plaintiffs argued that the new directive violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in a number of ways. First, the complaint asserted that the new directive was arbitrary and capricious, because it did not give a reasoned basis for the new action nor consider important elements of the problem and it failed to consider important reliance interests established since the original exemption in March. Second, the university asserted that the new directive violated the APA because it did not actually rescind or even amend the previous order, and was therefore in contradiction of established law, violating the APA. Third, the university claimed that this new directive did not follow the proper procedure, because defendants failed to abide by notice-and-comment rule-making procedures when issuing the order. The university also asserted the directive violated due process because it constituted deprivation of property without any notice or opportunity to be heard and it left no indication as to how the university and its international students could retain their visas. Finally, the complaint asserted that the order violated guarantees of academic freedom under the First Amendment.

The university sought injunctive relief in the form of a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction prohibiting the government from enforcing the directive. They also sought an order vacating and setting aside the directive, as well as declaratory relief. The university also sought attorney's fees and costs.

On July 13, the university submitted a motion for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent the government from enforcing the directive. That same day, the case was assigned to Judge Dabney L. Friedrich. Judge Friedrich instructed defendants to file a response to Johns Hopkins' motion for a temporary restraining order by the next day, 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 government agreed to rescind their implementation of the directive and to return to the March policy.

The court denied the university's motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction as moot on July 14. On October 6, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as moot and the university filed a notice of voluntary dismissal on October 20, 2020.

Jack Hibbard - 07/14/2020
Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/29/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Immigration/Border
Admission - criteria
Admission - procedure
Deportation - procedure
Detention - criteria
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Plaintiff Description Johns Hopkins University
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-CA-0165 : The Regents of the University of California v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (N.D. Cal.)
IM-MA-0020 : President and Fellows of Harvard College v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (D. Mass.)
IM-WA-0045 : State of Washington v. United States Department of Homeland Security (W.D. Wash.)
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
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D.D.C.
10/20/2020
1:20-cv-01509-CJN
IM-DC-0081-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
07/10/2020
Complaint for Declaratory Relief and Temporary and Permanent Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
IM-DC-0081-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
07/13/2020
Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 9, 9-1, 9-2, 9-7]
IM-DC-0081-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
07/13/2020
Declaration of Ellen Mackenzie [ECF# 10]
IM-DC-0081-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
07/13/2020
Declaration of Sunil Kumar [ECF# 11]
IM-DC-0081-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
07/13/2020
Declaration of Stephen Gange [ECF# 12]
IM-DC-0081-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Friedrich, Dabney Langhorne (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Burck, William A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-0001 | IM-DC-0081-0002 | IM-DC-0081-9000
Lev, Marina (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-0001 | IM-DC-0081-0002
Morgan, Shon (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-0001 | IM-DC-0081-0002
Nix-Hines, Crystal (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-0001 | IM-DC-0081-0002
Shaffer, Derek L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-0001 | IM-DC-0081-0002 | IM-DC-0081-9000
Sullivan, Kathleen M (California) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-0001 | IM-DC-0081-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Simon, Jeremy S (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-9000
Other Lawyers Harrison, Lindsay C (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-DC-0081-9000

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