US judge blocks Trump's H-1B visa ban; legislation introduced to overhaul system

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of AmericaUpdated: Oct 02, 2020, 09:01 AM IST
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The ruling places an immediate hold on a series of visa restrictions that prevent manufacturers from filling crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when most needed.

A federal judge has blocked the enforcement of the H-1B visa ban issued by US President Donald Trump in June this year.

The ruling places an immediate hold on a series of visa restrictions that prevent manufacturers from filling crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when most needed.

The order was issued on Thursday by District Judge Jeffrey White of Northern District of California. He said the president exceeded his constitutional authority.

The lawsuit against the Department of Commerce and Department of Homeland Security was filed by companies represented by National Association of Manufacturers, US Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation and TechNet.

In June, Trump had issued an executive order that had put temporary bar on issuing of new H-1B and other foreign visas including H-2B, J and L visas, till the end of the year.

The president had argued that the United States needs to save and protect jobs for its domestic work force at a time when millions of them lost their jobs due to coronavirus pandemic.

A number of IT companies and other US firms, and those representing them had voiced their opposition to the temporary ban.

Manufacturers went to court to challenge the administration's ban on certain visas because the restrictions both undermined the industry at a critical time and conflicted with the law.

"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. 
Such a finding would render the president's Article II powers all but superfluous," Judge White wrote in his 25 pager order.

The judge noted that the text of Article I and more than two centuries of legislative practice and judicial precedent make clear, the Constitution vests Congress, not the President, with the power to set immigration policy.

If the fact that immigrants come from other countries inherently made their admission foreign relations subject to the President's Article II power, then all of this law would be superfluous, the judge said.

"Indeed, there must be some measure of constraint on the 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.

Such unrestricted authority would be contrary to Congress' explicit delegation of powers in foreign affairs and national security," White said.

The ruling by Judge White is in contrast with a order passed by District Judge Amit Mehta of the District of Columbia in August who ruled that he does not has the power to enjoin the ban while the litigation is under way.


Meanwhile, an influential American lawmaker has introduced a legislation in the House of Representatives to overhaul the H-1B visa system to prevent the firing of domestic workers.

Introduced on Thursday by Congressman Mo Brooks from Alabama, the American Jobs First Act seeks to sops employers from hiring foreign H-1B workers if they have recently, or plan to, furlough their US workers.

It also requires employers to pay their H-1B workers more than the American workers to ensure foreign labour is only used when absolutely necessary.

The American Jobs First Act suspends the F-1 OPT program, which grants all foreign students extendable work permits and exacerbates job market competition among American graduates.

Further it ends the diversity visa lottery programme, which fails to serve US interests by issuing 50,000 green cards to foreigners from around the world regardless of their qualifications.

American Jobs First Act will bring much needed reform and oversight to the H-1B visa program to ensure that US workers are no longer disadvantaged in their own country, Congressman Brooks said.

To end the allure of cheap foreign labour, the bill will require employers to pay any H-1B workers a minimum amount of USD 110,000.

The legislation also ends the visa lottery that hands out 50,000 green cards, with work permits, based on a randomised computer drawing.

(with inputs from agencies)