LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The University of California system announced Wednesday that it planned to file suit against the federal government for “violating the rights of the university and its students.”

The lawsuit comes days after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to bar international students from staying in the county if they attend universities that offer online-only instruction as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit will seek a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to stop ICE from enforcing an order that UC President Janet Napolitano called, “mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America.”

According to 2019 fall enrollment data, 27,205 of UC’s 226,125 undergraduate students were non-resident international while 13,995 of the university’s 58,941 graduate students were non-resident international.

“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,” Napolitano said. “It is illegal, unnecessary and callous.”

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have also filed lawsuits, and the University of Southern California said it was weighing its legal options.

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