January 21, 2021

Judge Partially Blocks Trump Administration From Enforcing Visa Ban

A federal judge in San Francisco has partially blocked the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on foreign workers on H-1B and several other types of visas through the end of the year.

The ruling applies to workers for companies represented by the plaintiffs in the suit: the National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and TechNet.

Together, the four organizations represent hundreds of thousands of companies, including major Silicon Valley technology employers, significant names in manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, and some small businesses.

The order is national in scope, though it doesn’t apply to employers not represented by one of the four plaintiffs.

The temporary ban, which Mr. Trump issued in June, bars foreigners on H-1B or other work visas from coming to the U.S. through the end of this year or longer, should the president extend it. Mr. Trump said he took the step to safeguard unemployed Americans, who could take jobs not filled by foreigners.

The H-1B visa is an employment-based visa for highly skilled workers. The administration has argued that the coronavirus pandemic requires limits on immigration to prevent sick people from entering the country and to ensure that Americans get jobs first as the economy rebounds.

Mr. Trump likely exceeded his authority in issuing the ban, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Northern District of California wrote in his opinion.

“Congress’s delegation of authority in the immigration context…does not afford the president unbridled authority to set domestic policy regarding employment of nonimmigrant foreigners,” wrote Judge White, a George W. Bush appointee. “Such a finding would render the president’s Article II powers all but superfluous.”

The White House and the Justice Department didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

Write to Michelle Hackman at [email protected]

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