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City of Albany Joins Amicus Brief in Opposition to Federal Policy that Would Deny Visas to International Students

July 14, 2020

Date: July 14, 2020
Contact: David Galin

ALBANY, NY – Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Corporation Counsel Marisa Franchini announced the City of Albany joined an amicus brief filed by the Cities of Boston and Los Angeles in support of a Harvard College and Massachusetts Institute of Technology lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The lawsuit follows a recently announced policy that would deny visas to international students whose classes are fully online this fall as part of their college's COVID-19 safety plan.

The 26 cities, counties, and towns who joined the amicus brief are asking the courts to side with Harvard and MIT in granting a preliminary injunction that would block ICE's directive to force students on F-1 and M-1 visas to choose between living in the United States and attending the school of their choice.

“Whether in-person or online, international students educating themselves in the United States should not face the risk of deportation due to a pandemic,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “I applaud Harvard, MIT, and the Cities of Boston and Los Angeles for making it clear we must help protect the health and welfare of not only our international students, but our residents, businesses, and institutions.”

“The international students who come to the Capital District are an integral part of our community,” said Corporation Counsel Marisa Franchini. “We must take a stand against the Trump Administration’s latest thinly-veiled attack on immigrants.”

The amicus brief argues local governments must provide for the health and welfare of its residents, businesses, and institutions. Therefore, it is critical that colleges and universities should make decisions to physically open campuses and resume in-person learning based on scientific research and data and determined by each school's capacity. The federal government's action threatens to upset operational plans that were carefully crafted by colleges and universities in conjunction with local public health officials, the cities argue.

The cities are also asking the court to consider the economic impact of this policy, given the role international students will play in the economic crisis' recovery caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Economic estimates show that the one million international students studying at colleges and universities in the U.S. contributed $41 billion to the U.S. economy and supported 458,290 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year alone, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. In Albany, more than 1,800 international students attend institutions of higher learning, and it has been reported there are approximately 5,000 international students attending institutions of higher learning in the Capital Region.

The amicus brief was filed by the Cities of Los Angeles and Boston, together with Albany; Albuquerque, N.M.; Alexandria, Va.; Austin, Texas; Berkeley, Calif.; Cambridge, Mass.; Cameron, Texas; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Cook County, Ill.; Dayton, Ohio; Durham, N.H.; Hartford, Conn.; Iowa City, Iowa; Las Cruces, N.M.; New York; Oakland, Calif.; Pittsburgh; Sacramento, Calif.; Saint Paul, Minn.; Seattle; Santa Clara, Calif.; Amherst, Mass.; and Somerville, Mass. To read the amicus brief, visit here.