The Trump administration said a lawsuit seeking to throw out immigration restrictions, including those on H-1B visas used by technology workers, would “cut at the heart” of the president’s legal authority over border control when it is needed most.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is in sharp conflict with several U.S. business groups over the visa restrictions, especially those issued to highly skilled workers with expertise in specialty fields.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups seek a court order blocking implementation of President Donald Trump’s June 22 proclamation, which they say repeals entire visa categories for temporary workers. Ahead of a Sept. 11 hearing in San Francisco federal court to weigh the request, the Justice Department cited the coronavirus pandemic to argue that Trump properly relied on his “broad authority to suspend the entry of certain aliens.”
“Their entry would be detrimental to the interests of the United States in light of the significant economic harm the Covid-19 pandemic continues to inflict on the nation,” the U.S. said in the filing.
The groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation, sued in July, arguing Trump exceeded his authority when he temporarily halted access to several employment-based visas, affecting hundreds of thousands of people seeking to work in the U.S. The groups say the restrictions will drive talented workers away from the U.S. and to competitors.
The president’s order freezes new H-1B and H-4 visas, used by technology workers and their families, as well as L visas for intra-company transfers and most J visas for work- and study-abroad programs, including au pairs, through the end of the year.
The case is U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 20-cv-04887, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).