Court Battles

Top business groups file lawsuit over Trump order limiting work visas

Top business groups representing multiple industries filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Trump administration over newly issued limits on work visas.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), National Retail Federation (NRF), TechNet and International Training and Exchange (Intrax) filed the complaint against acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“American innovation rests on having the best and brightest working here. Over the past century, the United States has benefited immensely from courageous individuals who have left their homes, accepting an invitation to travel to America for temporary work,” reads the lawsuit filed in federal court in California.

The lawsuit, which requests declaratory and injunctive relief, follows President Trump’s move last month to slap new limits on foreign workers by suspending the issuance of temporary work visas, including H-1B visas, H-2B visas, H-4 visas, L-1 visas and certain J-1 visas, through the end of 2020. Business groups immediately hinted at possible legal action against the executive order.

“Our lawsuit seeks to overturn these sweeping and unlawful immigration restrictions that are an unequivocal ‘not welcome’ sign to the engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, and other critical workers who help drive the American economy. Left in place, these restrictions will push investment abroad, inhibit economic growth, and reduce job creation,” U.S. Chamber of Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue said in a statement on Tuesday.

H-1B visas are set aside for skilled workers, especially in the technology industry, and H-4 visas are given to their spouses. H-2B visas apply to seasonal workers; J-1 visas are for researchers, scholars and au pairs; and L-1 visas are for executives who transfer to the U.S. after working for the same employer abroad.

TechNet, a trade group consisting of tech executives, maintained Tuesday that banning these workers hinders the whole industry.

“[T]oday, we reiterate that banning categories of innovators only hinders tech’s ability to serve our country by providing essential groceries and food delivery, collaborating with co-workers, having safe medical visits using telehealth solutions, and helping millions stay connected. This litigation is a necessary step toward maintaining our nation’s ability to compete in the global economy and provide Americans the help they need during this uncertain time and in the future,” CEO Linda Moore said in a statement.

NAM noted that the visa restrictions restrain economy recovery, which is critical due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Manufacturers and program sponsors are going to court because these restrictions are far outside the bounds of the law and would deal a severe blow to our industry. We cannot let this stand,” Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly said in a statement.

Additionally, NRF stressed that innovation is key to surviving the economic crisis and retailers have been finding new ways to sell and deliver products.

“This proclamation is meant to protect American jobs but instead it threatens the millions of rank-and-file workers whose jobs rely on experts coming up with the latest technology to keep retail moving forward. Advanced computer and IT jobs are already hard to fill, and retailers need to be able to bring in talent from wherever they can find it,” Stephanie Martz, chief administrative officer and general counsel, said in a statement.

Intrax, which is based in California, provides cultural exchange opportunities for people traveling for work, global internships and trainee programs as well as Au Pair jobs.

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Tags Chad Wolf Donald Trump Mike Pompeo work visas

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