Court Blocks President’s Ban on Entry of Foreign Workers

In an important win against executive overreach and for the economy, on October 1, 2020, a federal  court blocked the administration’s latest ban on entry targeting most temporary foreign workers.  The injunction applies only to the plaintiff companies and associations, and to those associations’ members.  Those are:  U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, TechNet, and Intrax, Inc.  While it’s not a nationwide injunction, it’s a critically important ruling that paves the way for future lawsuits against the ban.

On June 24, 2020, a Presidential Proclamation took effect banning entry into the U.S. through the end of 2020, with potential for extensions, of most temporary foreign workers, including H-1B specialized knowledge professionals (unless working in healthcare positions), L-1 employees of multinational companies, H-2B seasonal non-agricultural workers (unless working in food supply chain jobs), and J-1 cultural exchange visa holders who work in positions varying from au pairs to summer camp counselors and more.

The stated reason for the entry ban was to reduce job competition until the U.S. economy recovers from the pandemic-induced downturn.   Citing ample evidence that contrary to the Presidential Proclamation’s premise, foreign workers have a positive impact on jobs and the economy, the plaintiff companies and associations challenged the legality of the ban and asked the court to block it.

Siding with the plaintiffs, the court summarized their evidence that the entry ban

will result in the disruption of business operations, interference with existing employees, the closing of open positions, the furlough or laying off of employees, substantial pay cuts, threatened loss of prospective customers, shutting down of entire programs, inability to make capital investments, and the likelihood that some businesses or cultural programs will have to cease operations altogether.

The court found that the President exceeded his authority,  stating that

there must be some measure of constraint on Presidential authority in the domestic sphere in order not to render the executive an entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogative.

The injunction means that U.S, Citizenship and Immigration Services and the State Department must resume processing employer petitions and nonimmigrant visa applications for temporary foreign workers who would be employed by the named plaintiffs and their member businesses, while the litigation challenging the President’s ban continues.

While the case is not yet over, the ruling was an important win for the economy.