In the course of a July 14 federal district court hearing on the Harvard/M.I.T. lawsuit seeking to block it new policy that was announced on July 6, the Trump administration gave up on its plans to deport up to a million mainly Chinese and Indian F-1 students in the US unless they expose themselves to the deadly coronavirus plague by taking online classes, which few if any US schools or colleges are willing or able to offer for health and safety reasons. For one of many news reports on this development, see POLITICO (July 14):

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/14/trump-administration-drops-plan-to-deport-international -students-in-online-only-classes-361053


This victory for justice and human rights showed that when the American people speak up in opposition to Trump's racist, authoritarian immigration agenda, it is possible to force him to back down, despite all his efforts to use the already great powers of the presidency to turn America into a white supremacist dictatorship. along the lines of the former South African apartheid regime.

To illustrate the point that there was no rational security or other basis for the July 6 policy (which was due to be officially published in the Federal Register but did not actually appear), but that the move was an entirely political appeal to Trump's bigoted "base" supporters, the anti-immigrants organization FAIR (Federation for Immigration Reform) issued a statement blasting Trump for "caving" to "special interests". See, FAIR, July 14:


Trump Administration Caves to Special Interest Pressure on Visas for Foreign Students Taking Online Classes, Says FAIR

Who might those "special interests" be? The answer is : hundreds of thousands of mainly Asian international students who will no be able to continue the studies in America in which they and their families have invested so much money and effort; as well as scores, if not over a hundred, colleges and universities across America outraged by Trump's bigotry and injustice toward nonwhite students; and the attorney generals of at least 17 states plus the District of Columbia, who had filed a separate lawsuit to stop this latest part of Trump's racist anti-immigrant agenda.

The Trump administration's sudden reversal, most likely caused by the fact that it had almost no chance of persuading any federal court to uphold its hastily put together order which was in clear violation of the APA's requirement that there be an adequate explanation for such a sudden, drastic, change in policy, certainly does not mean that Trump and Miller will abandon their attempt to seal America off against nonwhite legal immigration and conduct large scale ethic cleansing type expulsion of non-European legal and irregular immigrants who are already here.

Just as was the case three and a half years ago, when Trump's initial wide-ranging Muslim ban orders were struck down by the courts before his officials concocted am much more limited one which finally got past Supreme Court scrutiny (and which Trump bitterly complained was "watered down"), we can expect that Trump will continue his attacks against foreign students, and against all nonwhite legal immigrants, in more piecemeal fashion.

But while human rights and racial justice for immigrants have won a temporary victory with Trump's reversal, there is one glaring question which demands further scrutiny: where were the Democratic leaders during the week that this ICE atrocity, if not Crime Against Humanity - forcing almost a million foreign students to choose between a deadly disease and deportation because of their nationality or skin color - was taking place? I do not recall seeing a single news item regarding a statement against this outrage by any leading Democrat - maybe there were one or two that I may have missed.

Almost all the opposition came from private educational institutions, business groups and state or local officials. Are the Democratic leaders afraid to stand up for immigrants' human rights and racial justice? Maybe the answer is that pulling down Confederate statues or renaming Confederate monuments or sites doesn't take all that much courage.

Standing up against Trump's anti-immigrant racism takes some real guts. Of one thing we can be sure: This was far from Trump's first attempt to shut down the entire legal immigration system in order to maintain white domination in America for as long as possible. Nor will it be his last.

Courage is needed to stand to and fight against this agenda, in the federal courts, using broad arguments against anti-immigrant racial and national origin discrimination under US and international law, not only technical procedural arguments under the APA. Courage is also needed to win the battle of public opinion , as well as to take action in Congress - including another impeachment investigation placing Trump's anti-immigrant bigotry front and center.

A more serious, broader attempt should be made to remove Trump from office through impeachment before he steals this November's election - as he is showing every sign of trying to do through voter suppression and other means..

All of this will take courage on the part of immigration advocates: As Vergil wrote 2,000 years ago:


Nunc animis opus, Aenea, nunc pectore firmo ("Now is the time for courage; now let your heart be strong.")

Is the Democratic leadership up to the task?



Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard Law School LL.B
Harvard College A.B.