Federal Judge Blocks the Trump Ban on Foreign Worker Visas During the Course of the Pandemic

Federal Judge Blocks the Trump Ban on Foreign Worker Visas During the Course of the Pandemic

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By: Rebecca Anderson

Last week, a Federal judge ruled that President Trump and his administration had “overstepped” their authority after suspending issuance of specific work visas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court of Northern California granted a preliminary injunction to temporarily block the implementation of the order, issued in June.

According to The New York Times, the sweeping order applied to thousands of companies seeking to bring workers to the United States on a wide array of visas, including the H-1B for high-skilled workers, seasonal employees on guest-worker visas and others, such as au pairs, who enter the country on cultural exchange visas.

“The entry of additional workers through the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa programs…presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,” stated Trump in the Proclamation as justification for the temporary ban.

Certain associations—which include members from large companies like Microsoft, Exxon Mobile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Amazon—also agreed that Trump exceeded authority and, if left in place, would cause severe labor shortages in the U.S.

“Congress’ delegation of authority in the immigration context does not afford the President unbridled authority to set domestic policy regarding employment of nonimmigrant foreigners,” the judge wrote in his 25-page decision.

Linda Kelly, a senior vice president and general counsel at the manufacturers’ association said the restrictions both “undermined the industry at a critical time and conflicted with the law.”

“We are competing with the rest of the world to find and develop top talent to support innovation in our industry,” she added. “The decision is a temporary win for manufacturers committed to building that innovation in the United States.”

Judge White also concluded in the decision that the Proclamation “unlawfully eviscerates” portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act by eliminating, at least until the end of the year, the J, H, and L visa categories and that the Proclamation’s findings that foreign workers are a threat to employment opportunities for Americans do not comport with the facts.

According to Jurist.org, the ruling allows employers—those only to members of the associations that brought the suit—to resume bringing in employees from overseas.

Well, for now.

All of this comes on the heels of a preliminary injunction, also issued by Judge White late last week, blocking a series of fee hikes for visas and other immigration benefits that were to go into effect on Friday, saying they would irreparably harm poor immigrants.

According to The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website, the agency had planned to increase the cost of naturalization applications to $1,170 from $725 for most applicants; it would have also charged asylum seekers, who have never paid for refuge, a $50 application fee. The cost of applying for a deportation suspension or expulsion cancellation would have jumped to $1,810 from $285.

As expected, the Trump Administration issued a swift response to the injunction, announcing additional immigration reforms earlier this week.

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to publish regulations targeting H-1B visas that are granted to skilled workers and are common in the tech industry. Recipients can typically stay in the United States for multiple years.