BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — The state of California filed suit against the Trump administration Thursday over a policy that would bar international students from staying in the United States unless they were scheduled to take in-person classes.

The lawsuit, filed by California attorney general Xavier Becerra and chancellors from community and state colleges, alleges that the policy threatens to exacerbate the spread of the novel coronavirus by requiring international students to take in-person classes or face deportation.

“No one graduates more students from college or assembles a more talented and diverse group of future leaders than California,” Becerra said. “Today’s lawsuit rests on America’s enduring principle that everyone who works hard and plays by the rules can earn a chance to get ahead. We’ll see the Trump administration in court.”

At an immigrant rights rally in Oakland Thursday night, demonstrators denounced the new international student policy.

“There’s not only a pandemic with this coronavirus but there’s a pandemic of systematic oppression and white supremacy that starts at the very top and trickles all the way down,” said Karyn Vratimos, a demonstrator from San Francisco.

The suit comes just one day after the University of California system said it would seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prevent U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement from enforcing the order.

“I guess it’s admirable that for Berkeley to take action but, honestly, a part of me is kind of pessimistic and I guess I wonder how much a part of this is you want funding. And you want like, the international school money,” said Angela Liu, a student at UC Berkeley.

Also, on Thursday, the University of Southern California announced that it would be offering a no-cost, in-person class to international students that need it to maintain their visa status.

The university previously said it planned to join an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit filed this week by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology challenging the directive.

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