The policies were introduced by Mr Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, and outlined legal recommendations for institutions looking to consider race in applications as a way to boost diversity on campuses.
The Trump administration's plan would scrap the existing policies and encourage schools not to consider race at all.
The shift gives schools and colleges the federal government's blessing to leave race out of admissions and enrollment decisions and underscores the contentious politics that for decades have surrounded affirmation action policies, which have repeatedly been challenged before the Supreme Court.
Conservatives have said such programs can hurt white people and Asian-Americans.More news: Uruguay’s Edinson Cavani doubtful for France match
The Department of Education and Justice Department also said the previous administration's guidance went beyond the requirements of the Constitution to "prematurely decide, or appear to decide, whether particular actions violate the Constitution or federal law".
But civil rights advocates say the administration's move only furthers intolerance and discrimination by supporting systematic racial biases. They tell universities and colleges that it is acceptable to use race as a tool to achieve diversity. This was consistent with Supreme Court precedent that has permitted affirmative action but narrowly limited its use. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsUsing military attorneys to prosecute border crossers is a bad look for the White House Lawmakers press Trump admin for list of migrant kids separated from families Vermont becomes ninth state to legalize recreational pot MORE said the rescissions were necessary because the guidelines "were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law".
More recently, in November, the Department of Justice threw its weight behind a group called Students for Fair Admissions suing Harvard on the grounds that its affirmative action policies allegedly discriminated against Asian-American applicants.
A diverse class made up of students of different races, religions, political affiliations, and geographical backgrounds benefits everybody, said Michael Armini, a spokesman for Northeastern University who leads its government relations office.More news: Russian Federation beats Spain in shootout, reaches QFs | Professional
The Trump administration's move does not change the law on affirmative action.
AB: We know Kennedy has been the deciding vote on almost all of the cases around diversity in schools, both at the K-12 level and at the higher education level. "We still have all of the Supreme Court rulings that would influence how we handle this". The high court has said race-conscious admissions are permissible when schools also take into account other factors in an applicant's background. Blum said Tuesday the organization "welcomes any governmental actions that will eliminate racial classifications and preferences in college admissions".
A lawsuit against Harvard over the alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans is working its way through the courts now. It comes as the Trump administration continues its crackdown on immigration, including asylum seekers.
The case is likely to go to trial this fall and may ultimately be decided years from now by the US Supreme Court.More news: Red Bull chief hails victorious Verstappen’s maturity