More than 50 technology companies and organizations, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, filed an amicus brief on Monday in support of lawsuits against the Trump administration’s suspension of work visas.
“The President’s suspension of nonimmigrant visa programs, supposedly to ‘protect’ American workers, actually harms those workers, their employers, and the economy,” the companies argued in the brief.
US President Donald Trump issued a proclamation in April suspending the entry of nearly all immigrants to the US due to the high unemployment rate. He issued another proclamation in June, extending the April order through the end of this year and expanding it by imposing new restrictions on a variety of work visas.
The June proclamation targets H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, H-2B guest-worker visas, J trainee visas and L intracompany transferee visas. Trump claimed the measure will free up half a million jobs for US workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic.
A diverse set of parties, including the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation, have filed lawsuits in California and Washington federal courts to challenge the president’s orders.
Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in support of the suits on Aug 7, warning that the visa ban could result in economic fallout.
Those tech companies joined the efforts, arguing in their brief that the “indiscriminate suspension of these crucial nonimmigrant visas programs does not further the interests of the United States”.
Specifically, the proclamations “will stifle innovation, hinder growth, and ultimately harm US workers, businesses, and the economy more broadly in irreparable ways”, according to the brief.
Julie Pearl, CEO of the Pearl Law Group in San Francisco, and a member of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, echoed that by saying “the unilateral presidential orders will stifle economic recovery and growth, apart from violating the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality and Administrative Procedure Acts”. She said that is the reason why her group signed on to support litigation countering the orders.
“The rationale for this petty order is the myth that this pipeline of people takes jobs away from Americans. This fiction has been disproven in multiple studies,” said Pearl. “In fact, while new data from USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) shows that H-1B visa holders are less than half of a percent of full-time workers in the US, they are perhaps a major engine for job creation and economic recovery.
“Research by the American Immigration Council has shown that 1.3 million new jobs and approximately $158 billion in GDP could be created by 2045 if we simply increase H-1B visas,” she said.
One study by the council found that 231,224 more jobs would have been created for US-born workers in a two-year period just by raising the number of H-1B visas from their current 85,000 per year cap to meet market demand.
“The reason is simple: Foreign-born workers have an outsized impact on US innovation, with 30 percent of US patents filed by immigrants. Over 50 percent of US patents are now going to foreign companies and pushing more genius minds offshore will increase this number — along with the jobs that would have been created stateside,” said Pearl, citing the US Patent and Trademark Office’s data.
Shortly after Trump signed the proclamation in June, tech companies like Apple and Google opposed the move.
“Immigrants have not only fueled technological breakthroughs and created new businesses and jobs but have also enriched American life,” Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in June. “America’s continued success depends on companies having access to the best talent from around the world. Particularly now, we need that talent to help contribute to America’s economic recovery.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook said that he was “deeply disappointed” by the guest-worker ban. “Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream,” Cook tweeted in June.