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US Justice Department condemns Harvard for ‘unlawful racial discrimination” 

This image shows the gate to Harvard Yard at Harvard University on August 30, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by AFP)

The US Justice Department has accused Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-American applicants, the latest push by the US government to end the use of race in college admissions.

The department on Thursday backed a lawsuit that accuses  the Ivy League school of discriminating against academically strong Asian-American applicants in favor of others who may be less qualified.

The court filing noted that administrators of the prestigious university always gave lower marks to Asian-American students applying at the university when evaluating factors such as likability and leadership.

The criticism came as part of an ongoing admissions lawsuit lodged by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA).

The department, which has been investigating Harvard for potential civil rights violations over its affirmative action policy, made its argument in documents filed in federal court in Boston, where the case is scheduled to go to trial in October.

Harvard said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” by the department’s action and will defend the right of colleges to consider race as an admissions factor.

Harvard’s internal research office concluded that the college’s admissions policies do produce “negative effects” for Asian-American applicants in a series of reports circulated among top administrators in 2013. However, the reports were never made public.

A Harvard University building on August 30, 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by AFP)

“No American should be denied admission to school because of their race,” US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who heads the Justice Department, said in a statement.

After President Donald Trump, a Republican, took office last year, the Justice Department began investigating whether Harvard’s policies are discriminatory because they limit Asian-Americans’ acceptance.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college, essentially accepting that the record of discrimination against black Americans justifies giving them an extra advantage in admissions.

Conservatives have said such programs can hurt white people and Asian-Americans.

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