Federal District Court Permanently Enjoins Administration’s Unlawful Presence Policy Targeting International Students and Scholars


Policy would have unjustly barred students from our nation



February 6, 2020

Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, D.C.—Earlier today, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs issued a decision permanently enjoining the administration’s new unlawful presence policy, as laid out in the policy memorandum entitled Accrual of Unlawful Presence and F, J, and M Nonimmigrants. Previously, Judge Biggs issued a nationwide preliminary injunction temporarily blocking the government from enforcing the policy while the underlying district court case developed. For more information regarding the litigation, click here for our previous statement. 

President Jane Fernandes of Guilford College, former President Kim Benston of Haverford College, President David Van Zandt of The New School, and Chancellor Judy C. Miner of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, all members of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, along with the International Club of Guilford College, filed the original suit challenging the new unlawful presence policy in Federal District Court in October 2018. As important, in December 2018, the American Federation of Teachers and two individual MAVNIs joined as plaintiffs.

Below, we provide statements from the Presidents’ Alliance members:

Jane Fernandes, President, Guilford College & Steering Committee Member stated,International students and the campuses that depend on them are breathing a sigh of relief today in response to Judge Biggs’ decision. Even though the policy was halted in May, campuses were already feeling the negative effects, with rising anxiety among international students and concerns that future students would be discouraged from coming to study on our campuses. We urge the administration to not appeal this decision and instead recommit to restoring our nation’s competitiveness in regards to international students.”

Wendy Raymond, President, Haverford College stated, “International students and scholars came to the United States to study relying on a promise that our nation made to treat them fairly and transparently. The administration’s unlawful presence policy belied that promise, placing our students at risk of serious immigration consequences. I laud and commend Judge Biggs’ decision for the certainty and stability that it brings for our students and campuses.”

Judy C. Miner, Ed.D., Chancellor, Foothill-De Anza Community College District stated,Higher education, labor, and aspiring service members all came together to build a foundation for Judge Biggs decision. This coalition demonstrates that support for international students and opposition to policies that would harm them is widespread and intersectional. I applaud Judge Biggs’ decision, which serves to continue to ensure that our educational system will attract the best and brightest from abroad.”

David Van Zandt, President, New School stated, “Judge Biggs’ decision demonstrates that the importance of upholding the integrity of our nation’s commitment to welcome and educate international students. We urge the administration to work with higher education institutions to identify areas of common cooperation and reduce the barriers for international students to come, study, and work in the United States.”

The non-partisan Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings together college and university leaders dedicated to increasing public understanding of how immigration policies and practices impact our students, campuses and communities, and supporting policies that create a welcoming environment for undocumented, immigrant, and international students. The Alliance is comprised of over 450 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, representing over four million students in 41 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. 


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