BERKELEY (CBS SF) — University of California on Wednesday announced plans to sue the federal government over new rules requiring international college students to leave the U.S. unless they take some in-person classes during the pandemic.

Earlier this week, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to no longer give visas to international exchange students taking online courses due to COVID-19, forcing them to leave the country or enroll elsewhere.

University officials say the plan is “mean-spirited” and “arbitrary.” The lawsuit will seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to bar ICE from enforcing the new order.

“At a time when college students across America are struggling to deal with the challenges and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic while focusing on their studies, this capricious and illegal order from the federal government plunges them into deeper anxiety and uncertainty,” said outgoing UC President Janet Napolitano. “It is illegal, unnecessary and callous.”

Harvard, MIT and Northeastern filed a similar lawsuit.

More than 85,000 non-resident international students attend UC. The university plans to offer both online and in-person courses in the fall.

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