Legal Updates for Students and Scholars

Information and resources regarding immigration issues

Northeastern is a global university comprised of diverse identities, backgrounds, and beliefs. We embrace all members of our community, regardless of their national origin or religious affiliation. The University works to address student needs on an individual basis as permissible under law. All members of our community who have immigration concerns should rest assured that Northeastern will continue to stand with you. Northeastern has charged an interdisciplinary cross-functional Immigration Issues team—led by Madeleine Estabrook, Sr. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, and Jigisha Patel, Assistant General Counsel and Chief Advisor of International & Immigration Services—with monitoring and responding to immigration policy changes and providing support to our global community of students and scholars.

The information gathered here is intended to provide guidance and resources to all members of our community regarding immigration policies, executive orders on immigration, and the rescission of DACA. As Northeastern learns more information this page will be updated.

Policy Updates

Several appeals courts across the country have heard oral arguments in ongoing DACA litigation cases. On December 11, 2018, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Casa de Maryland [audio]. On January 25, 2019, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in Batalla Vidal [video]. On February 22, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in NAACP.

In addition, on February 4, 2019, plaintiffs in the State of Texas lawsuit moved for summary judgment [pdf]. The plaintiffs asked the court to declare the DACA program unlawful and asked the court to stop the federal government from accepting and processing DACA renewal applications. A trial date has been scheduled for May 2020.

Immigration Policy
The Public Charge Rule
On September 21, 2018, the Trump Administration issued a new proposed rule, called the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” or “public charge” rule, which would allow the denial of green cards to immigrants who use or would likely use public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, SNAP, and housing vouchers. The administration announced on August 9, 2019 that they would move forward with these restrictions and that they will take effect on October 15, 2019. On August 14, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule related to public charge in the Federal Register. Many states, including Massachusetts, have filed lawsuits challenging the public charge rule.

Accrual of Unlawful Presence
On October 23, 2018, a group of colleges and universities filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina challenging USCIS’s F, M, and J unlawful presence policy. The plaintiffs asked the court to declare the August 2018 policy memo unlawful. Plaintiffs also asked the court to vacate the memo. On December 21, 2018, several institutions of higher education, including Northeastern University, filed an amicus brief in support. On January 28, 2019, the court issued a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the federal government from applying the unlawful presence memo on two named plaintiffs in the case. A hearing date was scheduled for April 4, 2019.

On May 3, 2019, the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina issued a nationwide preliminary injunction that prevents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from enforcing this policy. With this injunction, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will follow the policy that was in effect previous to the August 2018 memo. The court required that briefs and cross motions for summary judgement be filed by May 30, 2019.

Northeastern will continue to monitor these situations closely and update this page as more information becomes available. Northeastern encourages members of our community to reach out to any of the offices listed in the “Northeastern Resources” section for assistance.

Asylum Seekers
On April 4, 2019, San Diego County filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Southern California asking for an injunction forcing the federal government to resume its “Safe Release” program, which allowed asylum seekers reach relatives that are already in the United State or connect with nonprofits that assist migrants.

On April 30, 2019, the Trump administration proposed new orders that would further restrict those seeking asylum in the United States. The new order would ban those crossing the border illegally from obtaining a work permit, give courts a 180-day limit to resolve asylum claims, and would charge fees for those applying for humanitarian refuge.

Additionally, on May 7, 2019, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Trump administration’s Migration Protection Protocols, also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, can continue to be enforced. The policy, announced in January 2019, allows migrants to be “returned” to Mexico to await a resolution of their asylum claims. The Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that granted a preliminary injunction, but left a ruling on the merits of the case up to the San Francisco court.

On July 24, 2019, a federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction against a rule that would require asylum seekers to seek protection in another country before attempting to cross the US-Mexico border. The rule was applied on a “pilot” basis starting July 15, 2019 and faced near immediate legal challenges.

On August 20, 2019, the Ninth Circuit confirmed the right to counsel in asylum proceedings. The court ruled that the Immigration Nationality Act guarantees the right to counsel, even in reasonable fear proceedings, as long as the government does not bear the expense for such representation.