The famous tech companies of Silicon Valley – and some of the not-so-famous tech companies as well – have lined up in opposition to President Trump’s January 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The executive order bans entry into the United States by travelers from seven predominantly-Muslim North African and Middle Eastern nations. As of February 8th, 127 companies in the tech industry have joined a friend-of-the-court brief that seeks to overturn that executive order.
The friend-of-the-court brief charges that the executive order is “a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years.” The brief also claims, “The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States.”
The friend-of-the-court brief, authored by Washington attorney Andrew Pincus, also includes some remarkable immigration statistics: “Immigrants are leading entrepreneurs. Some of these businesses are large. Immigrants or their children founded more than 200 of the companies on the Fortune 500 list…. Collectively, these companies generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion, and employ millions of Americans.” The brief also mentions that 18 percent of the business owners in the United States – and 16 percent of the labor force – are immigrants.
WHICH COMPANIES HAVE JOINED THE BRIEF? WHICH HAVEN’T?
The brief was submitted to the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a lawsuit filed by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Companies joining the brief include Google, Facebook, Apple, Airbnb, Ancestry.com, LinkedIn, Intel, Lyft, Uber, Mozilla, Microsoft, and PayPal. However, Amazon, Oracle, Qualcomm, and IBM were not among the tech companies that joined the friend-of-the-court brief. IBM told Forbes magazine that its CEO, Ginni Rometty, has already “conveyed the company’s views directly” to the White House.
The friend-of-the-court brief expresses Silicon Valley’s abiding conviction that immigrants are essential and key actors on the U.S. economic scene. Immigration benefits “not just the new immigrants who chose to come to our shores, but American businesses, workers, and consumers, who gain immense advantages from immigrants’ infusion of talents, energy, and opportunity,” according to the brief.
Martin Flaherty, who is a professor of constitutional law at Fordham Law School in New York City, told USA Today that friend-of-the-court briefs allow parties with an interest in a case to offer judges their own conclusions without actual being a party in the case. Judges often appreciate the insights offered by those with special knowledge about a case or a special interest in a case. Particularly controversial and landmark cases often generate scores of friend-of-the-court briefs on each side, Flaherty said.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE EFFECT OF THE EXECUTIVE ORDER?
The January 27 executive order suspended the processing of visas for foreign nationals from seven North African and Middle Eastern nations: Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. Some foreign nationals from those nations were prevented from entering the U.S. after arriving at U.S. airports. Others have had their visa applications suspended or revoked prior to their departures for the U.S. The executive order has been met with numerous protests and extensive criticism in both the United States and abroad, and with a number of legal actions.
In Seattle, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a restraining order on February 3rd that temporarily prevents the federal government from enforcing several sections of the executive order. As of February 8th, that restraining order is still in effect. For the moment, the federal government may not enforce the 90-day travel ban on “immigrants and nonimmigrants” from the seven designated countries, the 120-day suspension of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, or the indefinite suspension on the admission of Syrian refugees.
The U.S. District Court’s temporary restraining order probably will not be in effect for long, and the case will almost certainly be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the interim, cases pending in several other courts may also have an impact on immigrants and nonimmigrants from the seven designated nations. Until the Supreme Court provides a definitive ruling on the multiple legal issues raised by the January 27 executive order, the situation for immigrants, nonimmigrant visa holders, and families could change very quickly – and more than once.
Immigration attorneys across the nation and around the world are counseling individuals and families impacted by the executive order and are advocating aggressively for justice on their behalf. If you or anyone you love – or anyone you employ – needs legal direction or assistance regarding the January 27 executive order, an experienced Ohio immigration attorney can answer your questions, address your concerns, and if necessary, take the appropriate legal action.
For a number of tech firms and other companies in Silicon Valley and across the United States, the January 27 executive order has reportedly created pandemonium. Google has announced that almost 200 of its employees are being affected, while Microsoft said that more than 75 of its employees are impacted. As mentioned previously, until the United States Supreme Court rules on the matter, the legal situation for immigrants and nonimmigrant visa holders from the seven designated nations – and for their families – will be changing and confusing.
IS IMMIGRATION ALWAYS THIS CONTROVERSIAL AND CONFUSING?
Although the January 27 executive order has triggered controversy and aroused strong passions, what we’re seeing is really nothing new, historically speaking. Immigration law in the United States has always been torturously complex, and immigration practices and policies have always generated contention and acrimony. However, two facts never seem to change – employers need foreign-born employees, and many foreigners strongly desire to work in the United States.
Legal complexities and ever-changing regulations are always an element of the immigration process, but especially at this time, immigrants, non-immigrant visa holders, families, and employers affected by the January 27 executive order may need the legal advice and services of an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. It may be months before the United States Supreme Court finally and definitively resolves the legal questions raised by the January 27 executive order.